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The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project was established to characterize genetic effects on the transcriptome across human tissues and to link these regulatory mechanisms to trait and disease associations. Here, we present analyses of the version 8 data, examining 15,201 RNA-sequencing samples from 49 tissues of 838 postmortem donors. We comprehensively characterize genetic associations for gene expression and splicing in cis and trans, showing that regulatory associations are found for almost all genes, and describe the underlying molecular mechanisms and their contribution to allelic heterogeneity and pleiotropy of complex traits. Leveraging the large diversity of tissues, we provide insights into the tissue specificity of genetic effects and show that cell type composition is a key factor in understanding gene regulatory mechanisms in human tissues.
Copyright © 2020 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.
SUMMARY - Single cell RNA sequencing is a revolutionary technique to characterize inter-cellular transcriptomics heterogeneity. However, the data are noise-prone because gene expression is often driven by both technical artifacts and genuine biological variations. Proper disentanglement of these two effects is critical to prevent spurious results. While several tools exist to detect and remove low-quality cells in one single cell RNA-seq dataset, there is lack of approach to examining consistency between sample sets and detecting systematic biases, batch effects and outliers. We present scRNABatchQC, an R package to compare multiple sample sets simultaneously over numerous technical and biological features, which gives valuable hints to distinguish technical artifact from biological variations. scRNABatchQC helps identify and systematically characterize sources of variability in single cell transcriptome data. The examination of consistency across datasets allows visual detection of biases and outliers.
AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION - scRNABatchQC is freely available at https://github.com/liuqivandy/scRNABatchQC as an R package.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION - Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.
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.
Melanomas are characterized by driver and loss-of-function mutations that promote mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling. MEK inhibitors are approved for use in BRAF-mutated melanoma; however, early-phase clinical trials show occasional responses in driver-negative melanoma, suggesting other alterations conferring MAPK/ERK dependency. To identify additional structural alterations in melanoma, we evaluated RNA-Seq from a set of known MAPK/ERK regulators using a novel population-based algorithm in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). We identified recurrent MAP3K8 rearrangements in 1.7% of melanomas in TCGA, occurring in more than 15% of tumors without known driver mutations (, and ). Using an independent tumor set, we validated a similar rearrangement frequency by FISH. MAP3K8-rearranged melanomas exhibit a low mutational burden and absence of typical UV-mutational patterns. We identified two melanoma cell lines that harbor endogenous truncating MAP3K8 rearrangements that demonstrate exquisite dependency. Rearrangement and amplification of the MAP3K8 locus in melanoma cells result in increased levels of a truncated, active MAP3K8 protein; oncogenic dependency on the aberrant MAP3K8; and a concomitant resistance to BRAF inhibition and sensitivity to MEK or ERK1/2 inhibition. Our findings reveal and biochemically characterize targetable oncogenic MAP3K8 truncating rearrangements in driver mutation-negative melanoma, and provide insight to therapeutic approaches for patients with these tumors. These data provide rationale for using MEK or ERK inhibitors in a subset of driver-negative, MAPK/ERK-dependent melanomas harboring truncating MAP3K8 rearrangements. IMPLICATIONS: This is the first mechanistic study and therapeutic implications of truncating MAP3K8 rearrangements in driver-negative melanoma.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.
Cellular proteostasis is maintained by stress-responsive signaling pathways such as the heat shock response (HSR), the oxidative stress response (OSR), and the unfolded protein response (UPR). Activation of these pathways results in the transcriptional upregulation of select subsets of stress-responsive genes that restore proteostasis and adapt cellular physiology to promote recovery following various types of acute insult. The capacity for these pathways to regulate cellular proteostasis makes them attractive therapeutic targets for correcting proteostasis defects associated with diverse diseases. High-throughput screening (HTS) using cell-based reporter assays is highly effective for identifying putative activators of stress-responsive signaling pathways. However, the development of these compounds is hampered by the lack of medium-throughput assays to define compound potency and selectivity for a given pathway. Here, we describe a targeted RNA sequencing (RNAseq) assay that allows cost-effective, medium-throughput screening of stress-responsive signaling pathway activation. We demonstrate that this assay allows deconvolution of stress-responsive signaling activated by chemical genetic or pharmacologic agents. Furthermore, we use this assay to define the selectivity of putative OSR and HSR activating compounds previously identified by HTS. Our results demonstrate the potential for integrating this adaptable targeted RNAseq assay into screening programs focused on developing pharmacologic activators of stress-responsive signaling pathways.
BACKGROUND - Cytokine responses to activation of innate immunity differ between individuals, yet the genomic and tissue-specific transcriptomic determinants of inflammatory responsiveness are not well understood. We hypothesized that tissue-specific mRNA and long intergenic noncoding RNA (lincRNA) induction differs between individuals with divergent evoked inflammatory responses.
METHODS - In the GENE Study (Genetics of Evoked Response to Niacin and Endotoxemia), we performed an inpatient endotoxin challenge (1 ng/kg lipopolysaccharide [LPS]) in healthy humans. We selected individuals in the top (high responders) and bottom (low responders) extremes of inflammatory responses and applied RNA sequencing to CD14 monocytes (N=15) and adipose tissue (N=25) before and after LPS administration.
RESULTS - Although only a small number of genes were differentially expressed at baseline, there were clear differences in the magnitude of the transcriptional response post-LPS between high and low responders, with a far greater number of genes differentially expressed by endotoxemia in high responders. Furthermore, tissue responses differed during inflammation, and we found a number of tissue-specific differentially expressed lincRNAs post-LPS, which we validated. Relative to nondifferentially expressed lincRNAs, differentially expressed lincRNAs were equally likely to be nonconserved as conserved between human and mouse, indicating that conservation is not a predictor of lincRNAs associated with human inflammatory pathophysiology. Differentially expressed genes also were enriched for signals with inflammatory and cardiometabolic disease in published genome-wide association studies. CTB-41I6.2 ( AC002091.1), a nonconserved human-specific lincRNA, is one of the top lincRNAs regulated by endotoxemia in monocytes, but not in adipose tissue. Knockdown experiments in THP-1 monocytes suggest that this lincRNA enhances LPS-induced interleukin 6 ( IL6) expression in monocytes, and we now refer to this as monocyte LPS-induced lincRNA regulator of IL6 ( MOLRIL6).
CONCLUSIONS - We highlight mRNAs and lincRNAs that represent novel candidates for modulation of innate immune and metabolic responses in humans.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION - URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov . Unique identifier: NCT00953667.
Dual RNA-seq has emerged as a genome-wide expression profiling technique, simultaneously measuring RNA transcript levels in a given host and its pathogen during an infection. Recently, the method was transferred from cell culture to in vivo models of bacterial infections; however, specific host cell-type resolution has not yet been achieved. Here we present a detailed protocol that describes the application of Dual RNA-seq to murine colonocytes isolated from mice infected with the enteric pathogen Salmonella Typhimurium. At day 5 after oral infection, the mice were humanely euthanized, their colons extracted, and colonocytes isolated and fixed. Upon antibody staining of cell type-specific surface markers, the fraction of Salmonella-invaded colonocytes was collected by fluorescence-activated cell sorting based on a fluorescent signal emitted by the internalized bacteria. Total RNA was extracted from cells enriched by this method, and ribosomal transcripts from host and microbial cells were removed prior to cDNA synthesis and library generation. We compared different protocols for library preparation and discuss their respective advantages and caveats when applied to minute RNA amounts that constitute an inherent challenge for in vivo transcriptomics. Our results introduce an ultralow input protocol that holds promise for cell type-specific in vivo Dual RNA-seq for charting gene expression of a bacterial pathogen within its respective in vivo niche, along with the consequent host response.
© 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) has become a powerful tool for the systematic investigation of cellular diversity. As a number of computational tools have been developed to identify and visualize cell populations within a single scRNA-seq dataset, there is a need for methods to quantitatively and statistically define proportional shifts in cell population structures across datasets, such as expansion or shrinkage or emergence or disappearance of cell populations. Here we present sc-UniFrac, a framework to statistically quantify compositional diversity in cell populations between single-cell transcriptome landscapes. sc-UniFrac enables sensitive and robust quantification in simulated and experimental datasets in terms of both population identity and quantity. We have demonstrated the utility of sc-UniFrac in multiple applications, including assessment of biological and technical replicates, classification of tissue phenotypes and regional specification, identification and definition of altered cell infiltrates in tumorigenesis, and benchmarking batch-correction tools. sc-UniFrac provides a framework for quantifying diversity or alterations in cell populations across conditions and has broad utility for gaining insight into tissue-level perturbations at the single-cell resolution.
Rotavirus is the leading global cause of diarrheal mortality for unvaccinated children under 5 years of age. The outer capsid of rotavirus virions consists of VP7 and VP4 proteins, which determine viral G and P types, respectively, and are primary targets of neutralizing antibodies. Successful vaccination depends upon generating broadly protective immune responses following exposure to rotaviruses presenting a limited number of G- and P-type antigens. Vaccine introduction resulted in decreased rotavirus disease burden but also coincided with the emergence of uncommon G and P genotypes, including G12. To gain insight into the recent predominance of G12P rotaviruses in the United States, we evaluated 142 complete rotavirus genome sequences and metadata from 151 clinical specimens collected in Nashville, TN, from 2011 to 2013 through the New Vaccine Surveillance Network. Circulating G12P strains were found to share many segments with other locally circulating strains but to have distinct constellations. Phylogenetic analyses of G12 sequences and their geographic sources provided evidence for multiple separate introductions of G12 segments into Nashville, TN. Antigenic epitopes of VP7 proteins of G12P strains circulating in Nashville, TN, differ markedly from those of vaccine strains. Fully vaccinated children were found to be infected with G12P strains more frequently than with other rotavirus genotypes. Multiple introductions and significant antigenic mismatch may in part explain the recent predominance of G12P strains in the United States and emphasize the need for continued monitoring of rotavirus vaccine efficacy against emerging rotavirus genotypes. Rotavirus is an important cause of childhood diarrheal disease worldwide. Two immunodominant proteins of rotavirus, VP7 and VP4, determine G and P genotypes, respectively. Recently, G12P rotaviruses have become increasingly predominant. By analyzing rotavirus genome sequences from stool specimens obtained in Nashville, TN, from 2011 to 2013 and globally circulating rotaviruses, we found evidence of multiple introductions of G12 genes into the area. Based on sequence polymorphisms, VP7 proteins of these viruses are predicted to present themselves to the immune system very differently than those of vaccine strains. Many of the sick children with G12P rotavirus in their diarrheal stools also were fully vaccinated. Our findings emphasize the need for continued monitoring of circulating rotaviruses and the effectiveness of the vaccines against strains with emerging G and P genotypes.
Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.
Endothelial dysfunction is a known consequence of bone morphogenetic protein type II receptor () mutations seen in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). However, standard 2D cell culture models fail to mimic the mechanical environment seen in the pulmonary vasculature. Hydrogels have emerged as promising platforms for 3D disease modeling due to their tunable physical and biochemical properties. In order to recreate the mechanical stimuli seen in the pulmonary vasculature, we have created a novel 3D hydrogel-based pulmonary vasculature model ("artificial arteriole") that reproduces the pulsatile flow rates and pressures seen in the human lung. Using this platform, we studied both and WT endothelial cells to better understand how the addition of oscillatory flow and physiological pressure influenced gene expression, cell morphology, and cell permeability. The addition of oscillatory flow and pressure resulted in several gene expression changes in both WT and cells. However, for many pathways with relevance to PAH etiology, cells responded differently when compared to the WT cells. cells were also found not to elongate in the direction of flow, and instead remained stagnant in morphology despite mechanical stimuli. The increased permeability of the layer was successfully reproduced in our artificial arteriole, with the addition of flow and pressure not leading to significant changes in permeability. Our artificial arteriole is the first to model many mechanical properties seen in the lung. Its tunability enables several new opportunities to study the endothelium in pulmonary vascular disease with increased control over environmental parameters.