Monotonicity is a key feature of genotype-phenotype maps
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionFrontiers in Genetics. 2013, 4 . 10.3389/fgene.2013.00216
It was recently shown that monotone gene action, i.e., order-preservation between allele content and corresponding genotypic values in the mapping from genotypes to phenotypes, is a prerequisite for achieving a predictable parent-offspring relationship across the whole allele frequency spectrum. Here we test the consequential prediction that the design principles underlying gene regulatory networks are likely to generate highly monotone genotype-phenotype maps. To this end we present two measures of the monotonicity of a genotype-phenotype map, one based on allele substitution effects, and the other based on isotonic regression. We apply these measures to genotype-phenotype maps emerging from simulations of 1881 different 3-gene regulatory networks. We confirm that in general, genotype-phenotype maps are indeed highly monotonic across network types. However, regulatory motifs involving incoherent feedforward or positive feedback, as well as pleiotropy in the mapping between genotypes and gene regulatory parameters, are clearly predisposed for generating non-monotonicity. We present analytical results confirming these deep connections between molecular regulatory architecture and monotonicity properties of the genotype-phenotype map. These connections seem to be beyond reach by the classical distinction between additive and non-additive gene action.