CIS-Acting Allele-Specific Expression Differences Induced by Alcohol and Impacted by Sex as Well as Parental Genotype of Origin

Chiao Ling Lo, Lawrence Lumeng, Richard L. Bell, Tiebing Liang, Amy C. Lossie, Williams M. Muir, Feng C. Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are influenced by complex interactions between the genetics of the individual and their environment. We have previously identified hundreds of polygenic genetic variants between the selectively bred high- and low-alcohol drinking (HAD and LAD) rat lines. Here, we report allele-specific expression (ASE) differences, between the HAD2 and LAD2 rat lines. Methods: The HAD2 and LAD2 rats, which have been sequenced, were reciprocally crossed to generate 10 litters of F1 progeny. For 5 of these litters, the sire was HAD2, and for the other 5 litters, the sire was a LAD2. From these 10 litters, 2 males and 2 females were picked from each F1 litter (N = 40 total). The F1 pups were divided, balancing for sex and direction of cross, into an alcohol (15%) versus a water control group. Alcohol drinking started in the middle of adolescence (~postnatal day 35) and lasted 9 weeks. At the end of these treatments, rats were euthanized, the nucleus accumbens was dissected, and RNA was processed for RNA-sequencing and ASE analyses. Results: Analyses revealed that adolescent ethanol (EtOH) drinking, individual EtOH drinking levels, parentage, and sex-of-animal affected ASEs of about 300 genes. The identified genes included those associated with EtOH metabolism (e.g., Aldh2); neuromodulatory function (e.g., Cckbr, Slc6a7, and Slc1a1); ion channel activity (e.g., Kcnc3); and other synaptic and epigenetic functions. Conclusions: These data indicate that EtOH drinking differentially amplified paternal versus maternal allelic contribution to the transcriptome. We hypothesize that this was due, at least in part, to EtOH-induced changes in cis-regulation of polymorphisms previously identified between the HAD2 and LAD2 rat lines. This report highlights the complexity of gene-by-environment interactions mediating a genetic predisposition for, and/or the active development of, AUDs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1444-1453
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Alcohol Use Disorder
  • Direction of Cross
  • Epigenetics
  • Gender Effect
  • Gene–Environment Interaction
  • Genomics
  • RNA-seq

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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