Genetic Regulation of Adipose Gene Expression and Cardio-Metabolic Traits.
ABSTRACT: Subcutaneous adipose tissue stores excess lipids and maintains energy balance. We performed expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analyses by using abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue of 770 extensively phenotyped participants of the METSIM study. We identified cis-eQTLs for 12,400 genes at a 1% false-discovery rate. Among an approximately 680 known genome-wide association study (GWAS) loci for cardio-metabolic traits, we identified 140 coincident cis-eQTLs at 109 GWAS loci, including 93 eQTLs not previously described. At 49 of these 140 eQTLs, gene expression was nominally associated (p < 0.05) with levels of the GWAS trait. The size of our dataset enabled identification of five loci associated (p < 5 × 10-8) with at least five genes located >5 Mb away. These trans-eQTL signals confirmed and extended the previously reported KLF14-mediated network to 55 target genes, validated the CIITA regulation of class II MHC genes, and identified ZNF800 as a candidate master regulator. Finally, we observed similar expression-clinical trait correlations of genes associated with GWAS loci in both humans and a panel of genetically diverse mice. These results provide candidate genes for further investigation of their potential roles in adipose biology and in regulating cardio-metabolic traits.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified thousands of genetic loci associated with cardiometabolic traits including type 2 diabetes (T2D), lipid levels, body fat distribution, and adiposity, although most causal genes remain unknown. We used subcutaneous adipose tissue RNA-seq data from 434 Finnish men from the METSIM study to identify 9,687 primary and 2,785 secondary cis-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL; <1 Mb from TSS, FDR < 1%). Compared to primary eQTL signals, secondary eQTL signals were located further from transcription start sites, had smaller effect sizes, and were less enriched in adipose tissue regulatory elements compared to primary signals. Among 2,843 cardiometabolic GWAS signals, 262 colocalized by LD and conditional analysis with 318 transcripts as primary and conditionally distinct secondary cis-eQTLs, including some across ancestries. Of cardiometabolic traits examined for adipose tissue eQTL colocalizations, waist-hip ratio (WHR) and circulating lipid traits had the highest percentage of colocalized eQTLs (15% and 14%, respectively). Among alleles associated with increased cardiometabolic GWAS risk, approximately half (53%) were associated with decreased gene expression level. Mediation analyses of colocalized genes and cardiometabolic traits within the 434 individuals provided further evidence that gene expression influences variant-trait associations. These results identify hundreds of candidate genes that may act in adipose tissue to influence cardiometabolic traits.
Project description:Integration of genome-wide association study (GWAS) signals with expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) studies enables identification of candidate genes. However, evaluating whether nearby signals may share causal variants, termed colocalization, is affected by the presence of allelic heterogeneity, different variants at the same locus impacting the same phenotype. We previously identified eQTL in subcutaneous adipose tissue from 770 participants in the Metabolic Syndrome in Men (METSIM) study and detected 15 eQTL signals that colocalized with GWAS signals for waist-hip ratio adjusted for body mass index (WHRadjBMI) from the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits consortium. Here, we reevaluated evidence of colocalization using two approaches, conditional analysis and the Bayesian test COLOC, and show that providing COLOC with approximate conditional summary statistics at multi-signal GWAS loci can reconcile disagreements in colocalization classification between the two tests. Next, we performed conditional analysis on the METSIM subcutaneous adipose tissue data to identify conditionally distinct or secondary eQTL signals. We used the two approaches to test for colocalization with WHRadjBMI GWAS signals and evaluated the differences in colocalization classification between the two tests. Through these analyses, we identified four GWAS signals colocalized with secondary eQTL signals for FAM13A, SSR3, GRB14 and FMO1. Thus, at loci with multiple eQTL and/or GWAS signals, analyzing each signal independently enabled additional candidate genes to be identified.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have uncovered susceptibility loci for a large number of complex traits. Functional interpretation of candidate genes identified by GWAS and confident assignment of the causal variant still remains a major challenge. Expression quantitative trait (eQTL) mapping has facilitated identification of risk loci for quantitative traits and might allow prioritization of GWAS candidate genes. One major challenge of eQTL studies is the need for larger sample numbers and replication. The aim of this study was to evaluate the robustness and reproducibility of whole-blood eQTLs in humans and test their value in the identification of putative functional variants involved in the etiology of complex traits. In the current study, we performed comphrehensive eQTL mapping from whole blood. The discovery sample included 322 Caucasians from a general population sample (KORA F3). We identified 363 cis and 8 trans eQTLs after stringent Bonferroni correction for multiple testing. Of these, 98.6% and 50% of cis and trans eQTLs, respectively, could be replicated in two independent populations (KORA F4 (n=740) and SHIP-TREND (n=653)). Furthermore, we identified evidence of regulatory variation for SNPs previously reported to be associated with disease loci (n=59) or quantitative trait loci (n=20), indicating a possible functional mechanism for these eSNPs. Our data demonstrate that eQTLs in whole blood are highly robust and reproducible across studies and highlight the relevance of whole-blood eQTL mapping in prioritization of GWAS candidate genes in humans.
Project description:Interpreting the susceptible loci documented by genome-wide association studies (GWASs) is of utmost importance in the post-GWAS era. Since most complex traits are contributed by multiple tissues, analyzing tissue-specific effects of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) is a promising approach. Here we describe "opposite eQTL effects", i.e., gene expression effects of eQTLs that are in the opposite direction between different tissues, as the biologically meaningful annotations of genes and genetic variants for understanding the GWAS loci. The genes and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with the opposite eQTL effects (opp-multi-eQTL-Genes and opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs) were extracted from the largest eQTL database provided by the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project (release version 7). The opposite eQTL effects were detected even between closely related tissues such as cerebellum and brain cortex, and a significant proportion of the genes having eQTLs were annotated as the opp-multi-eQTL-Genes (2,323 out of 31,212; 7.4%). The opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs showed locational enrichment at the transcription start site and also possible involvement of epigenetic regulation. The biological importance of the opposite eQTL effects was also assessed using the SNPs reported in GWASs (GWAS-SNPs), which demonstrated that a high proportion of the opp-multi-eQTL-SNPs are in linkage disequilibrium with the GWAS-SNPs (2,498 out of 9,290; 26.9%). Based on the results, the opposite eQTL effects can be a common phenomenon in the tissue-specific gene regulation with a possible contribution to the development of complex traits.
Project description:Expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis, which links variations in gene expression to genotypes, is essential to understanding gene regulation and to interpreting disease-associated loci. Currently identified eQTLs are mainly in samples of blood and other normal tissues. However, no database comprehensively provides eQTLs in large number of cancer samples. Using the genotype and expression data of 9196 tumor samples in 33 cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we identified 5 606 570 eQTL-gene pairs in the cis-eQTL analysis and 231 210 eQTL-gene pairs in the trans-eQTL analysis. We further performed survival analysis and identified 22 212 eQTLs associated with patient overall survival. Furthermore, we linked the eQTLs to genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data and identified 337 131 eQTLs that overlap with existing GWAS loci. We developed PancanQTL, a user-friendly database (http://bioinfo.life.hust.edu.cn/PancanQTL/), to store cis-eQTLs, trans-eQTLs, survival-associated eQTLs and GWAS-related eQTLs to enable searching, browsing and downloading. PancanQTL could help the research community understand the effects of inherited variants in tumorigenesis and development.
Project description:In recent years, multiple eQTL (expression quantitative trait loci) catalogs have become available that can help understand the functionality of complex trait-related single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In eQTL catalogs, gene expression is often strongly associated with multiple SNPs, which may reflect either one or multiple independent associations. Conditional eQTL analysis allows a distinction between dependent and independent eQTLs. We performed conditional eQTL analysis in 4,896 peripheral blood microarray gene expression samples. Our analysis showed that 35% of genes with a cis eQTL have at least two independent cis eQTLs; for several genes up to 13 independent cis eQTLs were identified. Also, 12% (671) of the independent cis eQTLs identified in conditional analyses were not significant in unconditional analyses. The number of GWAS catalog SNPs identified as eQTL in the conditional analyses increases with 24% as compared to unconditional analyses. We provide an online conditional cis eQTL mapping catalog for whole blood (https://eqtl.onderzoek.io/), which can be used to lookup eQTLs more accurately than in standard unconditional whole blood eQTL databases.
Project description:Obesity is a multi-factorial health problem in which genetic factors play an important role. Limited results have been obtained in single-gene studies using either genomic or transcriptomic data. RNA sequencing technology has shown its potential in gaining accurate knowledge about the transcriptome, and may reveal novel genes affecting complex diseases. Integration of genomic and transcriptomic variation (expression quantitative trait loci [eQTL] mapping) has identified causal variants that affect complex diseases. We integrated transcriptomic data from adipose tissue and genomic data from a porcine model to investigate the mechanisms involved in obesity using a systems genetics approach.Using a selective gene expression profiling approach, we selected 36 animals based on a previously created genomic Obesity Index for RNA sequencing of subcutaneous adipose tissue. Differential expression analysis was performed using the Obesity Index as a continuous variable in a linear model. eQTL mapping was then performed to integrate 60 K porcine SNP chip data with the RNA sequencing data. Results were restricted based on genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms, detected differentially expressed genes, and previously detected co-expressed gene modules. Further data integration was performed by detecting co-expression patterns among eQTLs and integration with protein data.Differential expression analysis of RNA sequencing data revealed 458 differentially expressed genes. The eQTL mapping resulted in 987 cis-eQTLs and 73 trans-eQTLs (false discovery rate < 0.05), of which the cis-eQTLs were associated with metabolic pathways. We reduced the eQTL search space by focusing on differentially expressed and co-expressed genes and disease-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms to detect obesity-related genes and pathways. Building a co-expression network using eQTLs resulted in the detection of a module strongly associated with lipid pathways. Furthermore, we detected several obesity candidate genes, for example, ENPP1, CTSL, and ABHD12B.To our knowledge, this is the first study to perform an integrated genomics and transcriptomics (eQTL) study using, and modeling, genomic and subcutaneous adipose tissue RNA sequencing data on obesity in a porcine model. We detected several pathways and potential causal genes for obesity. Further validation and investigation may reveal their exact function and association with obesity.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified loci reproducibly associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other immune-mediated diseases; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying most of genetic susceptibility remain undefined. Expressional quantitative trait loci (eQTL) of disease-relevant tissue can be employed in order to elucidate the genes and pathways affected by disease-specific genetic variance.In this study, we derived eQTLs for human whole blood and intestine tissues of anti-tumor necrosis factor-resistant Crohn's disease (CD) patients. We interpreted these eQTLs in the context of published IBD GWAS hits to inform on the disease process.At 10% false discovery rate, we discovered that 5,174 genes in blood and 2,063 genes in the intestine were controlled by a nearby single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (i.e., cis-eQTL), among which 1,360 were shared between the two tissues. A large fraction of the identified eQTLs were supported by the regulomeDB database, showing that the eQTLs reside in regulatory elements (odds ratio; OR=3.44 and 3.24 for blood and intestine eQTLs, respectively) as opposed to protein-coding regions. Published IBD GWAS hits as a whole were enriched for blood and intestine eQTLs (OR=2.88 and 2.05; and P value=2.51E-9 and 0.013, respectively), thereby linking genetic susceptibility to control of gene expression in these tissues. Through a systematic search, we used eQTL data to inform 109 out of 372 IBD GWAS SNPs documented in National Human Genome Research Institute catalog, and we categorized the genes influenced by eQTLs according to their functions. Many of these genes have experimentally validated roles in specific cell types contributing to intestinal inflammation.The blood and intestine eQTLs described in this study represent a powerful tool to link GWAS loci to a regulatory function and thus elucidate the mechanisms underlying the genetic loci associated with IBD and related conditions. Overall, our eQTL discovery approach empirically identifies the disease-associated variants including their impact on the direction and extent of expression changes in the context of disease-relevant cellular pathways in order to infer the functional outcome of this aspect of genetic susceptibility.
Project description:Genetic risk loci have been identified for a wide range of diseases through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), but the relevant functional mechanisms have been identified for only a small proportion of these GWAS-identified loci. By integrating results from the largest current GWAS of chronic obstructive disease (COPD) with expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis in whole blood and sputum from 121 subjects with COPD from the ECLIPSE Study, this analysis identifies loci that are simultaneously associated with COPD and the expression of nearby genes (COPD eQTLs). After integrative analysis, 19 COPD eQTLs were identified, including all four previously identified genome-wide significant loci near HHIP, FAM13A, and the 15q25 and 19q13 loci. For each COPD eQTL, fine mapping and colocalization analysis to identify causal shared eQTL and GWAS variants identified a subset of sites with moderate-to-strong evidence of harboring at least one shared variant responsible for both the eQTL and GWAS signals. Transcription factor binding site (TFBS) analysis confirms that multiple COPD eQTL lead SNPs disrupt TFBS, and enhancer enrichment analysis for loci with the strongest colocalization signals showed enrichment for blood-related cell types (CD3 and CD4+ T cells, lymphoblastoid cell lines). In summary, integrative eQTL and GWAS analysis confirms that genetic control of gene expression plays a key role in the genetic architecture of COPD and identifies specific blood-related cell types as likely participants in the functional pathway from GWAS-associated variant to disease phenotype.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified genetic variants at 34 loci contributing to age-related macular degeneration (AMD)1-3. We generated transcriptional profiles of postmortem retinas from 453 controls and cases at distinct stages of AMD and integrated retinal transcriptomes, covering 13,662 protein-coding and 1,462 noncoding genes, with genotypes at more than 9 million common SNPs for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis of a tissue not included in Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) and other large datasets4,5. Cis-eQTL analysis identified 10,474 genes under genetic regulation, including 4,541 eQTLs detected only in the retina. Integrated analysis of AMD-GWAS with eQTLs ascertained likely target genes at six reported loci. Using transcriptome-wide association analysis (TWAS), we identified three additional genes, RLBP1, HIC1 and PARP12, after Bonferroni correction. Our studies expand the genetic landscape of AMD and establish the Eye Genotype Expression (EyeGEx) database as a resource for post-GWAS interpretation of multifactorial ocular traits.