Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms at a Distance from Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR) Binding Sites Influence AHR Ligand-Dependent Gene Expression.
ABSTRACT: Greater than 90% of significant genome-wide association study (GWAS) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are in noncoding regions of the genome, but only 25.6% are known expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). Therefore, the function of many significant GWAS SNPs remains unclear. We have identified a novel type of eQTL for which SNPs distant from ligand-activated transcription factor (TF) binding sites can alter target gene expression in a SNP genotype-by-ligand-dependent fashion that we refer to as pharmacogenomic eQTLs (PGx-eQTLs)-loci that may have important pharmacotherapeutic implications. In the present study, we integrated chromatin immunoprecipitation-seq with RNA-seq and SNP genotype data for a panel of lymphoblastoid cell lines to identify 10 novel cis PGx-eQTLs dependent on the ligand-activated TF aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)-a critical environmental sensor for xenobiotic (drug) and immune response. Those 10 cis PGx-eQTLs were eQTLs only after AHR ligand treatment, even though the SNPs did not create/destroy an AHR response element-the DNA sequence motif recognized and bound by AHR. Additional functional studies in multiple cell lines demonstrated that some cis PGx-eQTLs are functional in multiple cell types, whereas others displayed SNP-by-ligand-dependent effects in just one cell type. Furthermore, four of those cis PGx-eQTLs had previously been associated with clinical phenotypes, indicating that those loci might have the potential to inform clinical decisions. Therefore, SNPs across the genome that are distant from TF binding sites for ligand-activated TFs might function as PGx-eQTLs and, as a result, might have important clinical implications for interindividual variation in drug response. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: More than 90% of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are associated with clinical phenotypes are located in noncoding regions of the genome. However, the mechanisms of action of many of those SNPs have not been elucidated, and drugs may unmask functional expression quantitative trail loci (eQTLs). In the current study, we used drugs that bind to the ligand-activated transcription factor aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and identified SNPs that were associated with interindividual variation in gene expression following drug exposure-termed pharmacogenomic (PGx)-eQTLs. Possibly of greater significance, those PGx-eQTL SNPs were outside of AHR binding sites, indicating that they do not interrupt AHR DNA recognition. PGx-eQTLs such as those described in this work may have crucial implications for interindividual variation in drug.
Project description:Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a heterogeneous disease. Efforts to identify biomarkers for sub-classifying MDD and antidepressant therapy by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) alone have generally yielded disappointing results. We applied a metabolomics-informed genomic research strategy to study the contribution of genetic variation to MDD pathophysiology by assaying 31 metabolites, including compounds from the tryptophan, tyrosine, and purine pathways, in plasma samples from 290 MDD patients. Associations of metabolite concentrations with depressive symptoms were determined, followed by GWAS for selected metabolites and functional validation studies of the genes identified. Kynurenine (KYN), the baseline plasma metabolite that was most highly associated with depressive symptoms, was negatively correlated with severity of those symptoms. GWAS for baseline plasma KYN concentrations identified SNPs across the beta-defensin 1 (DEFB1) and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) genes that were cis-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) for DEFB1 and AHR mRNA expression, respectively. Furthermore, the DEFB1 locus was associated with severity of MDD symptoms in a larger cohort of 803 MDD patients. Functional studies demonstrated that DEFB1 could neutralize lipopolysaccharide-stimulated expression of KYN-biosynthesizing enzymes in monocytic cells, resulting in altered KYN concentrations in the culture media. In addition, we demonstrated that AHR was involved in regulating the expression of enzymes in the KYN pathway and altered KYN biosynthesis in cell lines of hepatocyte and astrocyte origin. In conclusion, these studies identified SNPs that were cis-eQTLs for DEFB1 and AHR and, which were associated with variation in plasma KYN concentrations that were related to severity of MDD symptoms.
Project description:Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) mapping and linkage disequilibrium (LD) analysis have been widely employed to interpret findings of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). With the availability of deep sequencing data of 423 lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) from six global populations and the microarray expression data, we performed eQTL analysis, identified more than 228?K SNP cis-eQTLs and 21?K indel cis-eQTLs and generated a LCL cis-eQTL database. We demonstrate that the percentages of population-shared and population-specific cis-eQTLs are comparable; while indel cis-eQTLs in the population-specific subsection make more contribution to gene expression variations than those in the population-shared subsection. We found cis-eQTLs, especially the population-shared cis-eQTLs are significantly enriched toward transcription start site. Moreover, the National Human Genome Research Institute cataloged GWAS SNPs are enriched for LCL cis-eQTLs. Specifically, 32.8% GWAS SNPs are LCL cis-eQTLs, among which 12.5% can be tagged by indel cis-eQTLs, suggesting the fundamental contribution of indel cis-eQTLs to GWAS association signals. To search for functional indels and SNPs tagging GWAS SNPs, a pipeline Post-GWAS Explorer for Functional Indels and SNPs (PExFInS) has been developed, integrating LD analysis, functional annotation from public databases, cis-eQTL mapping with our LCL cis-eQTL database and other published cis-eQTL datasets.
Project description:Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified >100 independent SNPs that modulate the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and related traits. However, the pathogenic mechanisms of most of these SNPs remain elusive. Here, we examined genomic, epigenomic, and transcriptomic profiles in human pancreatic islets to understand the links between genetic variation, chromatin landscape, and gene expression in the context of T2D. We first integrated genome and transcriptome variation across 112 islet samples to produce dense cis-expression quantitative trait loci (cis-eQTL) maps. Additional integration with chromatin-state maps for islets and other diverse tissue types revealed that cis-eQTLs for islet-specific genes are specifically and significantly enriched in islet stretch enhancers. High-resolution chromatin accessibility profiling using assay for transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing (ATAC-seq) in two islet samples enabled us to identify specific transcription factor (TF) footprints embedded in active regulatory elements, which are highly enriched for islet cis-eQTL. Aggregate allelic bias signatures in TF footprints enabled us de novo to reconstruct TF binding affinities genetically, which support the high-quality nature of the TF footprint predictions. Interestingly, we found that T2D GWAS loci were strikingly and specifically enriched in islet Regulatory Factor X (RFX) footprints. Remarkably, within and across independent loci, T2D risk alleles that overlap with RFX footprints uniformly disrupt the RFX motifs at high-information content positions. Together, these results suggest that common regulatory variations have shaped islet TF footprints and the transcriptome and that a confluent RFX regulatory grammar plays a significant role in the genetic component of T2D predisposition.
Project description:Identification of microRNA expression quantitative trait loci (miR-eQTL) can yield insights into regulatory mechanisms of microRNA transcription, and can help elucidate the role of microRNA as mediators of complex traits. Here we present a miR-eQTL mapping study of whole blood from 5,239 individuals, and identify 5,269 cis-miR-eQTLs for 76 mature microRNAs. Forty-nine per cent of cis-miR-eQTLs are located 300-500?kb upstream of their associated intergenic microRNAs, suggesting that distal regulatory elements may affect the interindividual variability in microRNA expression levels. We find that cis-miR-eQTLs are highly enriched for cis-mRNA-eQTLs and regulatory single nucleotide polymorphisms. Among 243 cis-miR-eQTLs that were reported to be associated with complex traits in prior genome-wide association studies, many cis-miR-eQTLs miRNAs display differential expression in relation to the corresponding trait (for example, rs7115089, miR-125b-5p and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol). Our study provides a roadmap for understanding the genetic basis of miRNA expression, and sheds light on miRNA involvement in a variety of complex traits.
Project description:Recent studies have analyzed large-scale data sets of gene expression to identify genes associated with interindividual variation in phenotypes ranging from cancer subtypes to drug sensitivity, promising new avenues of research in personalized medicine. However, gene expression data alone is limited in its ability to reveal cis-regulatory mechanisms underlying phenotypic differences. In this study, we develop a new probabilistic model, called pGENMi, that integrates multi-omic data to investigate the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms underlying interindividual variation of a specific phenotype-that of cell line response to cytotoxic treatment. In particular, pGENMi simultaneously analyzes genotype, DNA methylation, gene expression, and transcription factor (TF)-DNA binding data, along with phenotypic measurements, to identify TFs regulating the phenotype. It does so by combining statistical information about expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) and expression-correlated methylation marks (eQTMs) located within TF binding sites, as well as observed correlations between gene expression and phenotype variation. Application of pGENMi to data from a panel of lymphoblastoid cell lines treated with 24 drugs, in conjunction with ENCODE TF ChIP data, yielded a number of known as well as novel (TF, Drug) associations. Experimental validations by TF knockdown confirmed 41% of the predicted and tested associations, compared to a 12% confirmation rate of tested nonassociations (controls). An extensive literature survey also corroborated 62% of the predicted associations above a stringent threshold. Moreover, associations predicted only when combining eQTL and eQTM data showed higher precision compared to an eQTL-only or eQTM-only analysis using pGENMi, further demonstrating the value of multi-omic integrative analysis.
Project description:It is widely thought that alleles that influence susceptibility to common diseases, including schizophrenia, will frequently do so through effects on gene expression. As only a small proportion of the genetic variance for schizophrenia has been attributed to specific loci, this remains an unproven hypothesis. The International Schizophrenia Consortium (ISC) recently reported a substantial polygenic contribution to that disorder, and that schizophrenia risk alleles are enriched among single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) selected for marginal evidence for association (P<0.5) from genome-wide association studies (GWAS). It follows that if schizophrenia susceptibility alleles are enriched for those that affect gene expression, those marginally associated SNPs, which are also expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs), should carry more true association signals compared with SNPs that are not marginally associated. To test this, we identified marginally associated (P<0.5) SNPs from two of the largest available schizophrenia GWAS data sets. We assigned eQTL status to those SNPs based upon an eQTL data set derived from adult human brain. Using the polygenic score method of analysis reported by the ISC, we observed and replicated the observation that higher probability cis-eQTLs predicted schizophrenia better than those with a lower probability for being a cis-eQTL. Our data support the hypothesis that alleles conferring risk of schizophrenia are enriched among those that affect gene expression. Moreover, our data show that notwithstanding the likely developmental origin of schizophrenia, studies of adult brain tissue can, in principle, allow relevant susceptibility eQTLs to be identified.
Project description: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: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:The spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR) is a widely used rodent model of hypertension and metabolic syndrome. Previously we identified thousands of cis-regulated expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) across multiple tissues using a panel of rat recombinant inbred (RI) strains derived from Brown Norway and SHR progenitors. These cis-eQTLs represent potential susceptibility loci underlying physiological and pathophysiological traits manifested in SHR. We have prioritized 60 cis-eQTLs and confirmed differential expression between the parental strains by quantitative PCR in 43 (72%) of the eQTL transcripts. Quantitative trait transcript (QTT) analysis in the RI strains showed highly significant correlation between cis-eQTL transcript abundance and clinically relevant traits such as systolic blood pressure and blood glucose, with the physical location of a subset of the cis-eQTLs colocalizing with "physiological" QTLs (pQTLs) for these same traits. These colocalizing correlated cis-eQTLs (c3-eQTLs) are highly attractive as primary susceptibility loci for the colocalizing pQTLs. Furthermore, sequence analysis of the c3-eQTL genes identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are predicted to affect transcription factor binding affinity, splicing and protein function. These SNPs, which potentially alter transcript abundance and stability, represent strong candidate factors underlying not just eQTL expression phenotypes, but also the correlated metabolic and physiological traits. In conclusion, by integration of genomic sequence, eQTL and QTT datasets we have identified several genes that are strong positional candidates for pathophysiological traits observed in the SHR strain. These findings provide a basis for the functional testing and ultimate elucidation of the molecular basis of these metabolic and cardiovascular phenotypes.
Project description:Sepsis is a major threat with high mortality rate for critically ill patients. Response to pathogen infection by the host immune system is a key biological process involved in the onset and development of sepsis. Heterogeneous host genome variation, especially single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), has long been suggested to contribute to differences in disease progression. However, the function of SNPs located in non-coding regions remains to be elucidated. Recently, m6A mRNA modification levels were revealed to differ at SNPs. As m6A is a crucial regulator of gene expression, these SNPs might control genes by changing the m6A level on mRNA. To investigate the potential role of m6A SNPs in sepsis, we integrated m6A-SNP and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) data. Analysis revealed 15,720 m6A-cis-eQTLs and 381 m6A-trans-eQTLs associated with sepsis. We identified 1321 genes as locations of m6A-cis-eQTLs. These were enriched in platelet degranulation and Staphylococcus aureus infection pathways, which are vital for the pathophysiological process of sepsis. We conclude that m6A modification of mRNA plays a very important role in sepsis, with m6A-cis-eQTLs potentially having the most effect on individual variation in sepsis progression.