Genome-wide mapping of genetic determinants influencing DNA methylation and gene expression in human hippocampus.
ABSTRACT: Emerging evidence emphasizes the strong impact of regulatory genomic elements in neurodevelopmental processes and the complex pathways of brain disorders. The present genome-wide quantitative trait loci analyses explore the cis-regulatory effects of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on DNA methylation (meQTL) and gene expression (eQTL) in 110 human hippocampal biopsies. We identify cis-meQTLs at 14,118 CpG methylation sites and cis-eQTLs for 302 3'-mRNA transcripts of 288 genes. Hippocampal cis-meQTL-CpGs are enriched in flanking regions of active promoters, CpG island shores, binding sites of the transcription factor CTCF and brain eQTLs. Cis-acting SNPs of hippocampal meQTLs and eQTLs significantly overlap schizophrenia-associated SNPs. Correlations of CpG methylation and RNA expression are found for 34 genes. Our comprehensive maps of cis-acting hippocampal meQTLs and eQTLs provide a link between disease-associated SNPs and the regulatory genome that will improve the functional interpretation of non-coding genetic variants in the molecular genetic dissection of brain disorders.
Project description:The genetic regulation of the human epigenome is not fully appreciated. Here we describe the effects of genetic variants on the DNA methylome in human lung based on methylation-quantitative trait loci (meQTL) analyses. We report 34,304 cis- and 585 trans-meQTLs, a genetic-epigenetic interaction of surprising magnitude, including a regulatory hotspot. These findings are replicated in both breast and kidney tissues and show distinct patterns: cis-meQTLs mostly localize to CpG sites outside of genes, promoters and CpG islands (CGIs), while trans-meQTLs are over-represented in promoter CGIs. meQTL SNPs are enriched in CTCF-binding sites, DNaseI hypersensitivity regions and histone marks. Importantly, four of the five established lung cancer risk loci in European ancestry are cis-meQTLs and, in aggregate, cis-meQTLs are enriched for lung cancer risk in a genome-wide analysis of 11,587 subjects. Thus, inherited genetic variation may affect lung carcinogenesis by regulating the human methylome.
Project description:Genetic variants that associate with DNA methylation at CpG sites (methylation quantitative trait loci, meQTLs) offer a potential biological mechanism of action for disease associated SNPs. We investigated whether meQTLs exist in abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) and if CpG methylation associates with metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) phenotypes. We profiled 27,718 genomic regions in abdominal SAT samples of 38 unrelated individuals using differential methylation hybridization (DMH) together with genotypes at 5,227,243 SNPs and expression of 17,209 mRNA transcripts. Validation and replication of significant meQTLs was pursued in an independent cohort of 181 female twins. We find that, at 5% false discovery rate, methylation levels of 149 DMH regions associate with at least one SNP in a ±500 kilobase cis-region in our primary study. We sought to validate 19 of these in the replication study and find that five of these significantly associate with the corresponding meQTL SNPs from the primary study. We find that none of the 149 meQTL top SNPs is a significant expression quantitative trait locus in our expression data, but we observed association between expression levels of two mRNA transcripts and cis-methylation status. Our results indicate that DNA CpG methylation in abdominal SAT is partly under genetic control. This study provides a starting point for future investigations of DNA methylation in adipose tissue.
Project description:Genetic influence on DNA methylation is potentially an important mechanism affecting individual differences in humans. We use next-generation sequencing to assay blood DNA methylation at approximately 4.5 million loci, each comprising 2.9 CpGs on average, in 697 normal subjects. Methylation measures at each locus are tested for association with approximately 4.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to exhaustively screen for methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs).Using stringent false discovery rate control, 15 % of methylation sites show genetic influence. Most meQTLs are local, where the associated SNP and methylation site are in close genomic proximity. Distant meQTLs and those spanning different chromosomes are less common. Most local meQTLs encompass common SNPs that alter CpG sites (CpG-SNPs). Local meQTLs encompassing CpG-SNPs are enriched in regions of inactive chromatin in blood cells. In contrast, local meQTLs lacking CpG-SNPs are enriched in regions of active chromatin and transcription factor binding sites. Of 393 local meQTLs that overlap disease-associated regions from genome-wide studies, a high percentage encompass common CpG-SNPs. These meQTLs overlap active enhancers, differentiating them from CpG-SNP meQTLs in inactive chromatin.Genetic influence on the human blood methylome is common, involves several heterogeneous processes and is predominantly dependent on local sequence context at the meQTL site. Most meQTLs involve CpG-SNPs, while sequence-dependent effects on chromatin binding are also important in regions of active chromatin. An abundance of local meQTLs resulting from methylation of CpG-SNPs in inactive chromatin suggests that many meQTLs lack functional consequence. Integrating meQTL and Roadmap Epigenomics data could assist fine-mapping efforts.
Project description:Background:The study of DNA methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) helps dissect regulatory mechanisms underlying genetic associations of human diseases. In this study, we conducted the first genome-wide examination of genetic drivers of methylation variation in response to a triglyceride-lowering treatment with fenofibrate (response-meQTL) by using an efficient analytic approach. Methods:Subjects (n?=?429) from the GAW20 real data set with genotype and both pre- (visit 2) and post- (visit 4) fenofibrate treatment methylation measurements were included. Following the quality control steps of removing certain cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) probes, the post-/premethylation changes (post/pre) were log transformed and the association was performed on 208,449 CpG sites. An additive linear mixed-effects model was used to test the association between each CpG probe and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) around ±1 Mb region, with age, sex, smoke, batch effect, and principal components included as covariates. Bonferroni correction was applied to define the significance threshold (p?<?5.6?×?10-?10, given a total of 89,217,303 tests). Finally, we integrated our response-meQTL (re-meQTL) findings with the published genome-wide association study (GWAS) catalog of human diseases/traits. Results:We identified 1087 SNPs as cis re-meQTLs associated with 610 CpG probes/sites located in 351 unique gene loci. Among these 1087 cis re-meQTL SNPs, 229 were unique and 6 were co-localized at 8 unique disease/trait loci reported in the GWAS catalog (enrichment p?=?1.51?×?10-?23). Specifically, a lipid SNP, rs10903129, located in intron regions of gene TMEM57, was a re-meQTL (p?=?3.12?×?10-?36) associated with the CpG probe cg09222892, which is in the upstream region of the gene RHCE, indicating a new target gene for rs10903129. In addition, we found that SNP rs12710728 has a suggestive association with cg17097782 (p?=?1.77?×?10-?4), and that this SNP is in high linkage disequilibrium (LD) (R2?>?0.8) with rs7443270, which was previously reported to be associated with fenofibrate response (p?=?5.00?×?10-?6). Conclusions:By using a novel analytic approach, we efficiently identified thousands of cis re-meQTLs that provide a unique resource for further characterizing functional roles and gene targets of the SNPs that are most responsive to fenofibrate treatment. Our efficient analytic approach can be extended to large response quantitative trait locus studies with large sample sizes and multiple time points data.
Project description:DNA methylation is an important molecular-level phenotype that links genotypes and complex disease traits. Previous studies have found local correlation between genetic variants and DNA methylation levels (cis-meQTLs). However, general mechanisms underlying cis-meQTLs are unclear. We conducted a cis-meQTL analysis of the Genetics of Lipid Lowering Drugs and Diet Network data (n = 593). We found that over 80% of genetic variants at CpG sites (meSNPs) are meQTL loci (P-value<10(-9)), and meSNPs account for over two thirds of the strongest meQTL signals (P-value<10(-200)). Beyond direct effects on the methylation of the meSNP site, the CpG-disrupting allele of meSNPs were associated with lowered methylation of CpG sites located within 45 bp. The effect of meSNPs extends to as far as 10 kb and can contribute to the observed meQTL signals in the surrounding region, likely through correlated methylation patterns and linkage disequilibrium. Therefore, meSNPs are behind a large portion of observed meQTL signals and play a crucial role in the biological process linking genetic variation to epigenetic changes.
Project description:Identifying methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) and integrating them with disease-associated variants from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) may illuminate functional mechanisms underlying genetic variant-disease associations. Here, we perform GWAS of >415 thousand CpG methylation sites in whole blood from 4170 individuals and map 4.7 million cis- and 630 thousand trans-meQTL variants targeting >120 thousand CpGs. Independent replication is performed in 1347 participants from two studies. By linking cis-meQTL variants with GWAS results for cardiovascular disease (CVD) traits, we identify 92 putatively causal CpGs for CVD traits by Mendelian randomization analysis. Further integrating gene expression data reveals evidence of cis CpG-transcript pairs causally linked to CVD. In addition, we identify 22 trans-meQTL hotspots each targeting more than 30 CpGs and find that trans-meQTL hotspots appear to act in cis on expression of nearby transcriptional regulatory genes. Our findings provide a powerful meQTL resource and shed light on DNA methylation involvement in human diseases.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies have identified more than 100 SNPs that increase the risk of prostate cancer (PrCa). We identify and compare expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) and CpG methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) among 147 established PrCa risk SNPs in primary prostate tumors (n = 355 from a Seattle-based study and n = 495 from The Cancer Genome Atlas, TCGA) and tumor-adjacent, histologically benign samples (n = 471 from a Mayo Clinic study). The role of DNA methylation in eQTL regulation of gene expression was investigated by data triangulation using several causal inference approaches, including a proposed adaptation of the Causal Inference Test (CIT) for causal direction. Comparing eQTLs between tumors and benign samples, we show that 98 of the 147 risk SNPs were identified as eQTLs in the tumor-adjacent benign samples, and almost all 34 eQTL identified in tumor sets were also eQTLs in the benign samples. Three lines of results support the causal role of DNA methylation. First, nearly 100 of the 147 risk SNPs were identified as meQTLs in one tumor set, and almost all eQTLs in tumors were meQTLs. Second, the loss of eQTLs in tumors relative to benign samples was associated with altered DNA methylation. Third, among risk SNPs identified as both eQTLs and meQTLs, mediation analyses suggest that over two-thirds have evidence of a causal role for DNA methylation, mostly mediating genetic influence on gene expression. In summary, we provide a comprehensive catalog of eQTLs, meQTLs and putative cancer genes for known PrCa risk SNPs. We observe that a substantial portion of germline eQTL regulatory mechanisms are maintained in the tumor development, despite somatic alterations in tumor genome. Finally, our mediation analyses illuminate the likely intermediary role of CpG methylation in eQTL regulation of gene expression.
Project description:BACKGROUND:One of the major challenges in current psychiatric epigenetic studies is the tissue specificity of epigenetic changes since access to brain samples is limited. Peripheral tissues have been studied as surrogates but the knowledge of cross-tissue genetic-epigenetic characteristics remains largely unknown. In this work, we conducted a comprehensive investigation of genetic influence on DNA methylation across brain and peripheral tissues with the aim to characterize cross-tissue genetic-epigenetic effects and their roles in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. METHODS:Genome-wide methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTLs) from brain prefrontal cortex, whole blood, and saliva were identified separately and compared. Focusing on cis-acting effects, we tested the enrichment of cross-tissue meQTLs among cross-tissue expression QTLs and genetic risk loci of various diseases, including major psychiatric disorders. CpGs targeted by cross-tissue meQTLs were also tested for genomic distribution and functional enrichment as well as their contribution to methylation correlation across tissues. Finally, a consensus co-methylation network analysis on the cross-tissue meQTL targeted CpGs was performed on data of the three tissues collected from schizophrenia patients and controls. RESULTS:We found a significant overlap of cis meQTLs (45-73 %) and targeted CpG sites (31-68 %) among tissues. The majority of cross-tissue meQTLs showed consistent signs of cis-acting effects across tissues. They were significantly enriched in genetic risk loci of various diseases, especially schizophrenia, and also enriched in cross-tissue expression QTLs. Compared to CpG sites not targeted by any meQTLs, cross-tissue targeted CpGs were more distributed in CpG island shores and enhancer regions, and more likely had strong correlation with methylation levels across tissues. The targeted CpGs were also annotated to genes enriched in multiple psychiatric disorders and neurodevelopment-related pathways. Finally, we identified one co-methylation network shared between brain and blood showing significant schizophrenia association (p = 5.5 × 10-6). CONCLUSIONS:Our results demonstrate prevalent cross-tissue meQTL effects and their contribution to the correlation of CpG methylation across tissues, while at the same time a large portion of meQTLs show tissue-specific characteristics, especially in brain. Significant enrichment of cross-tissue meQTLs in expression QTLs and genetic risk loci of schizophrenia suggests the potential of these cross-tissue meQTLs for studying the genetic effect on schizophrenia. The study provides compelling motivation for a well-designed experiment to further validate the use of surrogate tissues in the study of psychiatric disorders.
Project description:Integration of emerging epigenetic information with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) genetic results may elucidate functional insights not possible via either type of information in isolation. Here we use the genotype and DNA methylation (DNAm) data from cord blood and peripheral blood to identify SNPs associated with DNA methylation (meQTL lists). Additionally, we use publicly available fetal brain and lung meQTL lists to assess enrichment of ASD GWAS results for tissue-specific meQTLs. ASD-associated SNPs are enriched for fetal brain (OR?=?3.55; P?<?0.001) and peripheral blood meQTLs (OR?=?1.58; P?<?0.001). The CpG targets of ASD meQTLs across cord, blood, and brain tissues are enriched for immune-related pathways, consistent with other expression and DNAm results in ASD, and reveal pathways not implicated by genetic findings. This joint analysis of genotype and DNAm demonstrates the potential of both brain and blood-based DNAm for insights into ASD and psychiatric phenotypes more broadly.
Project description:Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common, painful and debilitating disease of articulating joints resulting from the age-associated loss of cartilage. Well-powered genetic studies have identified a number of DNA polymorphisms that are associated with OA susceptibility. Like most complex trait loci, these OA loci are thought to influence disease susceptibility through the regulation of gene expression, so-called expression quantitative loci, or eQTLs. One mechanism through which eQTLs act is epigenetic, by modulating DNA methylation. In such cases, there are quantitative differences in DNA methylation between the two alleles of the causal polymorphism, with the association signal referred to as a methylation quantitative trait locus, or meQTL. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether the OA susceptibility loci identified to date are functioning as meQTLs by integrating genotype data with whole genome methylation data of cartilage DNA. We investigated potential genotype-methylation correlations within a 1.0-1.5 Mb region surrounding each of 16 OA-associated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 99 cartilage samples and identified four that function as meQTLs. Three of these replicated in an additional cohort of up to 62 OA patients. These observations suggest that OA susceptibility loci regulate the level of DNA methylation in cis and provide a mechanistic explanation as to how these loci impact upon OA susceptibility, further increasing our understanding of the role of genetics and epigenetics in this common disease.