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Gene network transitions in embryos and other fate-changing contexts involve combinations of transcription factors. A subset of fate-changing transcription factors act as pioneers; they scan and target nucleosomal DNA and initiate cooperative events that can open the local chromatin. However, a gap has remained in understanding how molecular interactions with the nucleosome contribute to the chromatin-opening phenomenon. Here we identified a short α-helical region, conserved among FOXA pioneer factors, that interacts with core histones and contributes to chromatin opening in vitro. The same domain is involved in chromatin opening in early mouse embryos for normal development. Thus, local opening of chromatin by interactions between pioneer factors and core histones promotes genetic programming.
Adopting a systems approach, we devise a general workflow to define actionable subtypes in human cancers. Applied to small cell lung cancer (SCLC), the workflow identifies four subtypes based on global gene expression patterns and ontologies. Three correspond to known subtypes (SCLC-A, SCLC-N, and SCLC-Y), while the fourth is a previously undescribed ASCL1+ neuroendocrine variant (NEv2, or SCLC-A2). Tumor deconvolution with subtype gene signatures shows that all of the subtypes are detectable in varying proportions in human and mouse tumors. To understand how multiple stable subtypes can arise within a tumor, we infer a network of transcription factors and develop BooleaBayes, a minimally-constrained Boolean rule-fitting approach. In silico perturbations of the network identify master regulators and destabilizers of its attractors. Specific to NEv2, BooleaBayes predicts ELF3 and NR0B1 as master regulators of the subtype, and TCF3 as a master destabilizer. Since the four subtypes exhibit differential drug sensitivity, with NEv2 consistently least sensitive, these findings may lead to actionable therapeutic strategies that consider SCLC intratumoral heterogeneity. Our systems-level approach should generalize to other cancer types.
Histone deacetylase 3 (Hdac3) is a target of the FDA approved HDAC inhibitors, which are used for the treatment of lymphoid malignancies. Here, we used Cd19-Cre to conditionally delete Hdac3 to define its role in germinal center B cells, which represent the cell of origin for many B cell malignancies. Cd19-Cre-Hdac3-/- mice showed impaired germinal center formation along with a defect in plasmablast production. Analysis of Hdac3-/- germinal centers revealed a reduction in dark zone centroblasts and accumulation of light zone centrocytes. RNA-seq revealed a significant correlation between genes up-regulated upon Hdac3 loss and those up-regulated in Foxo1-deleted germinal center B cells, even though Foxo1 typically activates transcription. Therefore, to determine whether gene expression changes observed in Hdac3-/- germinal centers were a result of direct effects of Hdac3 deacetylase activity, we used an HDAC3 selective inhibitor and examined nascent transcription in germinal center-derived cell lines. Transcriptional changes upon HDAC3 inhibition were enriched for light zone gene signatures as observed in germinal centers. Further comparison of PRO-seq data with ChIP-seq/exo data for BCL6, SMRT, FOXO1 and H3K27ac identified direct targets of HDAC3 function including CD86, CD83 and CXCR5 that are likely responsible for driving the light zone phenotype observed in vivo.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.
Major depression is a common and severe psychiatric disorder with a highly polygenic genetic architecture. Genome-wide association studies have successfully identified multiple independent genetic loci that harbour variants associated with major depression, but the exact causal genes and biological mechanisms are largely unknown. Tissue-specific network approaches may identify molecular mechanisms underlying major depression and provide a biological substrate for integrative analyses. We provide a framework for the identification of individual risk genes and gene co-expression networks using genome-wide association summary statistics and gene expression information across multiple human brain tissues and whole blood. We developed a novel gene-based method called eMAGMA that leverages tissue-specific eQTL information to identify 99 biologically plausible risk genes associated with major depression, of which 58 are novel. Among these novel associations is Complement Factor 4A (C4A), recently implicated in schizophrenia through its role in synaptic pruning during postnatal development. Major depression risk genes were enriched in gene co-expression modules in multiple brain tissues and the implicated gene modules contained genes involved in synaptic signalling, neuronal development, and cell transport pathways. Modules enriched with major depression signals were strongly preserved across brain tissues, but were weakly preserved in whole blood, highlighting the importance of using disease-relevant tissues in genetic studies of psychiatric traits. We identified tissue-specific genes and gene co-expression networks associated with major depression. Our novel analytical framework can be used to gain fundamental insights into the functioning of the nervous system in major depression and other brain-related traits.
The genetic architecture of psychiatric disorders is characterized by a large number of small-effect variants located primarily in non-coding regions, suggesting that the underlying causal effects may influence disease risk by modulating gene expression. We provide comprehensive analyses using transcriptome data from an unprecedented collection of tissues to gain pathophysiological insights into the role of the brain, neuroendocrine factors (adrenal gland) and gastrointestinal systems (colon) in psychiatric disorders. In each tissue, we perform PrediXcan analysis and identify trait-associated genes for schizophrenia (n associations = 499; n unique genes = 275), bipolar disorder (n associations = 17; n unique genes = 13), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (n associations = 19; n unique genes = 12) and broad depression (n associations = 41; n unique genes = 31). Importantly, both PrediXcan and summary-data-based Mendelian randomization/heterogeneity in dependent instruments analyses suggest potentially causal genes in non-brain tissues, showing the utility of these tissues for mapping psychiatric disease genetic predisposition. Our analyses further highlight the importance of joint tissue approaches as 76% of the genes were detected only in difficult-to-acquire tissues.
We analyzed 921 adenocarcinomas of the esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum to examine shared and distinguishing molecular characteristics of gastrointestinal tract adenocarcinomas (GIACs). Hypermutated tumors were distinct regardless of cancer type and comprised those enriched for insertions/deletions, representing microsatellite instability cases with epigenetic silencing of MLH1 in the context of CpG island methylator phenotype, plus tumors with elevated single-nucleotide variants associated with mutations in POLE. Tumors with chromosomal instability were diverse, with gastroesophageal adenocarcinomas harboring fragmented genomes associated with genomic doubling and distinct mutational signatures. We identified a group of tumors in the colon and rectum lacking hypermutation and aneuploidy termed genome stable and enriched in DNA hypermethylation and mutations in KRAS, SOX9, and PCBP1.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
We analyzed molecular data on 2,579 tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) of four gynecological types plus breast. Our aims were to identify shared and unique molecular features, clinically significant subtypes, and potential therapeutic targets. We found 61 somatic copy-number alterations (SCNAs) and 46 significantly mutated genes (SMGs). Eleven SCNAs and 11 SMGs had not been identified in previous TCGA studies of the individual tumor types. We found functionally significant estrogen receptor-regulated long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and gene/lncRNA interaction networks. Pathway analysis identified subtypes with high leukocyte infiltration, raising potential implications for immunotherapy. Using 16 key molecular features, we identified five prognostic subtypes and developed a decision tree that classified patients into the subtypes based on just six features that are assessable in clinical laboratories.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are commonly dysregulated in tumors, but only a handful are known to play pathophysiological roles in cancer. We inferred lncRNAs that dysregulate cancer pathways, oncogenes, and tumor suppressors (cancer genes) by modeling their effects on the activity of transcription factors, RNA-binding proteins, and microRNAs in 5,185 TCGA tumors and 1,019 ENCODE assays. Our predictions included hundreds of candidate onco- and tumor-suppressor lncRNAs (cancer lncRNAs) whose somatic alterations account for the dysregulation of dozens of cancer genes and pathways in each of 14 tumor contexts. To demonstrate proof of concept, we showed that perturbations targeting OIP5-AS1 (an inferred tumor suppressor) and TUG1 and WT1-AS (inferred onco-lncRNAs) dysregulated cancer genes and altered proliferation of breast and gynecologic cancer cells. Our analysis indicates that, although most lncRNAs are dysregulated in a tumor-specific manner, some, including OIP5-AS1, TUG1, NEAT1, MEG3, and TSIX, synergistically dysregulate cancer pathways in multiple tumor contexts.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Genome-phenome studies have identified thousands of variants that are statistically associated with disease or traits; however, their functional roles are largely unclear. A comprehensive investigation of regulatory mechanisms and the gene regulatory networks between phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) and genome-wide association study (GWAS) is needed to identify novel regulatory variants contributing to risk for human diseases.
METHODS - In this study, we developed an integrative functional genomics framework that maps 215,107 significant single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) traits generated from the PheWAS Catalog and 28,870 genome-wide significant SNP traits collected from the GWAS Catalog into a global human genome regulatory map via incorporating various functional annotation data, including transcription factor (TF)-based motifs, promoters, enhancers, and expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) generated from four major functional genomics databases: FANTOM5, ENCODE, NIH Roadmap, and Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx). In addition, we performed a tissue-specific regulatory circuit analysis through the integration of the identified regulatory variants and tissue-specific gene expression profiles in 7051 samples across 32 tissues from GTEx.
RESULTS - We found that the disease-associated loci in both the PheWAS and GWAS Catalogs were significantly enriched with functional SNPs. The integration of functional annotations significantly improved the power of detecting novel associations in PheWAS, through which we found a number of functional associations with strong regulatory evidence in the PheWAS Catalog. Finally, we constructed tissue-specific regulatory circuits for several complex traits: mental diseases, autoimmune diseases, and cancer, via exploring tissue-specific TF-promoter/enhancer-target gene interaction networks. We uncovered several promising tissue-specific regulatory TFs or genes for Alzheimer's disease (e.g. ZIC1 and STX1B) and asthma (e.g. CSF3 and IL1RL1).
CONCLUSIONS - This study offers powerful tools for exploring the functional consequences of variants generated from genome-phenome association studies in terms of their mechanisms on affecting multiple complex diseases and traits.
The impact of inherited genetic variation on gene expression in humans is well-established. The majority of known expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) impact expression of local genes (-eQTLs). More research is needed to identify effects of genetic variation on distant genes (-eQTLs) and understand their biological mechanisms. One common -eQTLs mechanism is "mediation" by a local () transcript. Thus, mediation analysis can be applied to genome-wide SNP and expression data in order to identify transcripts that are "-mediators" of -eQTLs, including those "-hubs" involved in regulation of many -genes. Identifying such mediators helps us understand regulatory networks and suggests biological mechanisms underlying -eQTLs, both of which are relevant for understanding susceptibility to complex diseases. The multitissue expression data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) program provides a unique opportunity to study -mediation across human tissue types. However, the presence of complex hidden confounding effects in biological systems can make mediation analyses challenging and prone to confounding bias, particularly when conducted among diverse samples. To address this problem, we propose a new method: Genomic Mediation analysis with Adaptive Confounding adjustment (GMAC). It enables the search of a very large pool of variables, and adaptively selects potential confounding variables for each mediation test. Analyses of simulated data and GTEx data demonstrate that the adaptive selection of confounders by GMAC improves the power and precision of mediation analysis. Application of GMAC to GTEx data provides new insights into the observed patterns of -hubs and -eQTL regulation across tissue types.
© 2017 Yang et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.