With the sequencing and assembly of the rat genome comes the difficult task of assigning functions to genes. Tissue localization of gene expression gives some information about the potential role of a gene in physiology. Various examples of the utility of multiple tissue gene expression data sets are illustrated here. First, we highlight their use in finding genes that might play an important role in a particular tissue on the basis of exclusive expression in that tissue or coexpression with a gene or genes with known function. Second, we show how this data might be used to explain known phenotypic differences between strains. Third, we show how expression patterns of genes in a genomic interval might identify candidate genes in quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping studies. Lastly, we show how multiple tissue and species data can help researchers prioritize follow up studies to microarray experiments. All of these applications of multiple tissue gene expression data sets will play a role in functionally annotating the rat genome.
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