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Open Access Review

Convergent functional genomics in addiction research - a translational approach to study candidate genes and gene networks

Rainer Spanagel

Author Affiliations

Institute of Psychopharmacology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Faculty of Medicine Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, J5, 68159 Mannheim, Germany

In Silico Pharmacology 2013, 1:18  doi:10.1186/2193-9616-1-18

Published: 13 December 2013


Convergent functional genomics (CFG) is a translational methodology that integrates in a Bayesian fashion multiple lines of evidence from studies in human and animal models to get a better understanding of the genetics of a disease or pathological behavior. Here the integration of data sets that derive from forward genetics in animals and genetic association studies including genome wide association studies (GWAS) in humans is described for addictive behavior. The aim of forward genetics in animals and association studies in humans is to identify mutations (e.g. SNPs) that produce a certain phenotype; i.e. “from phenotype to genotype”. Most powerful in terms of forward genetics is combined quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis and gene expression profiling in recombinant inbreed rodent lines or genetically selected animals for a specific phenotype, e.g. high vs. low drug consumption. By Bayesian scoring genomic information from forward genetics in animals is then combined with human GWAS data on a similar addiction-relevant phenotype. This integrative approach generates a robust candidate gene list that has to be functionally validated by means of reverse genetics in animals; i.e. “from genotype to phenotype”. It is proposed that studying addiction relevant phenotypes and endophenotypes by this CFG approach will allow a better determination of the genetics of addictive behavior.

Substance use disorders; Alcohol addiction; Behavioral addictions; Endophenotypes; QTL analysis; Transcriptomic analysis; GWAS; Transgenic animal models