Using Mechanistic Modeling to Understand Non-Linear and Age-Dependent Effects of Genetic Factors
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Differences in DNA sequence between two individuals or cells can cause diseases like autism and cancer. The McGrath lab is interested in understanding how changes in DNA lead to observable differences among individuals of a species. This basic goal has been difficult due to the complexity of the relationship between genotype and phenotype. In order to improve our ability to predict how genetic variants influence reproductive rates in the nematode C. elegans, we are using a mechanistic model of the egg-laying process based upon years of accumulated experiments. This model is able to explain seemingly non-linear interactions between two genetic variants as well as predict the effect age has on the effect of the genetic variant. Application of this model improves our ability to understand how the genetic factors control this trait.