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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.
Transcriptomic imputation approaches combine eQTL reference panels with large-scale genotype data in order to test associations between disease and gene expression. These genic associations could elucidate signals in complex genome-wide association study (GWAS) loci and may disentangle the role of different tissues in disease development. We used the largest eQTL reference panel for the dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) to create a set of gene expression predictors and demonstrate their utility. We applied DLPFC and 12 GTEx-brain predictors to 40,299 schizophrenia cases and 65,264 matched controls for a large transcriptomic imputation study of schizophrenia. We identified 413 genic associations across 13 brain regions. Stepwise conditioning identified 67 non-MHC genes, of which 14 did not fall within previous GWAS loci. We identified 36 significantly enriched pathways, including hexosaminidase-A deficiency, and multiple porphyric disorder pathways. We investigated developmental expression patterns among the 67 non-MHC genes and identified specific groups of pre- and postnatal expression.
Interpretation of genetic association results is difficult because signals often lack biological context. To generate hypotheses of the functional genetic etiology of complex cardiometabolic traits, we estimated the genetically determined component of gene expression from common variants using PrediXcan (1) and determined genes with differential predicted expression by trait. PrediXcan imputes tissue-specific expression levels from genetic variation using variant-level effect on gene expression in transcriptome data. To explore the value of imputed genetically regulated gene expression (GReX) models across different ancestral populations, we evaluated imputed expression levels for predictive accuracy genome-wide in RNA sequence data in samples drawn from European-ancestry and African-ancestry populations and identified substantial predictive power using European-derived models in a non-European target population. We then tested the association of GReX on 15 cardiometabolic traits including blood lipid levels, body mass index, height, blood pressure, fasting glucose and insulin, RR interval, fibrinogen level, factor VII level and white blood cell and platelet counts in 15 755 individuals across three ancestry groups, resulting in 20 novel gene-phenotype associations reaching experiment-wide significance across ancestries. In addition, we identified 18 significant novel gene-phenotype associations in our ancestry-specific analyses. Top associations were assessed for additional support via query of S-PrediXcan (2) results derived from publicly available genome-wide association studies summary data. Collectively, these findings illustrate the utility of transcriptome-based imputation models for discovery of cardiometabolic effect genes in a diverse dataset.
© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press.
In this trans-ethnic multi-omic study, we reinterpret the genetic architecture of blood pressure to identify genes, tissues, phenomes and medication contexts of blood pressure homeostasis. We discovered 208 novel common blood pressure SNPs and 53 rare variants in genome-wide association studies of systolic, diastolic and pulse pressure in up to 776,078 participants from the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and collaborating studies, with analysis of the blood pressure clinical phenome in MVP. Our transcriptome-wide association study detected 4,043 blood pressure associations with genetically predicted gene expression of 840 genes in 45 tissues, and mouse renal single-cell RNA sequencing identified upregulated blood pressure genes in kidney tubule cells.
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by a wide spectrum of clinical manifestations and degrees of severity. Few genomic biomarkers for SLE have been validated and employed to inform clinical classifications and decisions. To discover and assess the gene-expression based SLE predictors in published studies, we performed a meta-analysis using our established signature database and a data similarity-driven strategy. From 13 training data sets on SLE gene-expression studies, we identified a SLE meta-signature (SLEmetaSig100) containing 100 concordant genes that are involved in DNA sensors and the IFN signaling pathway. We rigorously examined SLEmetaSig100 with both retrospective and prospective validation in two independent data sets. Using unsupervised clustering, we retrospectively elucidated that SLEmetaSig100 could classify clinical samples into two groups that correlated with SLE disease status and disease activities. More importantly, SLEmetaSig100 enabled personalized stratification demonstrating its ability to prospectively predict SLE disease at the individual patient level. To evaluate the performance of SLEmetaSig100 in predicting SLE, we predicted 1,171 testing samples to be either non-SLE or SLE with positive predictive value (97-99%), specificity (85%-84%), and sensitivity (60-84%). Our study suggests that SLEmetaSig100 has enhanced predictive value to facilitate current SLE clinical classification and provides personalized disease activity monitoring.
Lung epithelial lineages have been difficult to maintain in pure form in vitro, and lineage-specific reporters have proven invaluable for monitoring their emergence from cultured pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). However, reporter constructs for tracking proximal airway lineages generated from PSCs have not been previously available, limiting the characterization of these cells. Here, we engineer mouse and human PSC lines carrying airway secretory lineage reporters that facilitate the tracking, purification, and profiling of this lung subtype. Through bulk and single-cell-based global transcriptomic profiling, we find PSC-derived airway secretory cells are susceptible to phenotypic plasticity exemplified by the tendency to co-express both a proximal airway secretory program as well as an alveolar type 2 cell program, which can be minimized by inhibiting endogenous Wnt signaling. Our results provide global profiles of engineered lung cell fates, a guide for improving their directed differentiation, and a human model of the developing airway.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
X chromosome inactivation (XCI) silences transcription from one of the two X chromosomes in female mammalian cells to balance expression dosage between XX females and XY males. XCI is, however, incomplete in humans: up to one-third of X-chromosomal genes are expressed from both the active and inactive X chromosomes (Xa and Xi, respectively) in female cells, with the degree of 'escape' from inactivation varying between genes and individuals. The extent to which XCI is shared between cells and tissues remains poorly characterized, as does the degree to which incomplete XCI manifests as detectable sex differences in gene expression and phenotypic traits. Here we describe a systematic survey of XCI, integrating over 5,500 transcriptomes from 449 individuals spanning 29 tissues from GTEx (v6p release) and 940 single-cell transcriptomes, combined with genomic sequence data. We show that XCI at 683 X-chromosomal genes is generally uniform across human tissues, but identify examples of heterogeneity between tissues, individuals and cells. We show that incomplete XCI affects at least 23% of X-chromosomal genes, identify seven genes that escape XCI with support from multiple lines of evidence and demonstrate that escape from XCI results in sex biases in gene expression, establishing incomplete XCI as a mechanism that is likely to introduce phenotypic diversity. Overall, this updated catalogue of XCI across human tissues helps to increase our understanding of the extent and impact of the incompleteness in the maintenance of XCI.
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing is a conserved post-transcriptional mechanism mediated by ADAR enzymes that diversifies the transcriptome by altering selected nucleotides in RNA molecules. Although many editing sites have recently been discovered, the extent to which most sites are edited and how the editing is regulated in different biological contexts are not fully understood. Here we report dynamic spatiotemporal patterns and new regulators of RNA editing, discovered through an extensive profiling of A-to-I RNA editing in 8,551 human samples (representing 53 body sites from 552 individuals) from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project and in hundreds of other primate and mouse samples. We show that editing levels in non-repetitive coding regions vary more between tissues than editing levels in repetitive regions. Globally, ADAR1 is the primary editor of repetitive sites and ADAR2 is the primary editor of non-repetitive coding sites, whereas the catalytically inactive ADAR3 predominantly acts as an inhibitor of editing. Cross-species analysis of RNA editing in several tissues revealed that species, rather than tissue type, is the primary determinant of editing levels, suggesting stronger cis-directed regulation of RNA editing for most sites, although the small set of conserved coding sites is under stronger trans-regulation. In addition, we curated an extensive set of ADAR1 and ADAR2 targets and showed that many editing sites display distinct tissue-specific regulation by the ADAR enzymes in vivo. Further analysis of the GTEx data revealed several potential regulators of editing, such as AIMP2, which reduces editing in muscles by enhancing the degradation of the ADAR proteins. Collectively, our work provides insights into the complex cis- and trans-regulation of A-to-I editing.
BACKGROUND - microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential to the regulation of gene expression in eukaryotes, and improper expression of miRNAs contributes to hundreds of diseases. Despite the essential functions of miRNAs, the evolutionary dynamics of how they are integrated into existing gene regulatory and functional networks is not well understood. Knowledge of the origin and evolutionary history a gene has proven informative about its functions and disease associations; we hypothesize that incorporating the evolutionary origins of miRNAs into analyses will help resolve differences in their functional dynamics and how they influence disease.
RESULTS - We computed the phylogenetic age of miRNAs across 146 species and quantified the relationship between human miRNA age and several functional attributes. Older miRNAs are significantly more likely to be associated with disease than younger miRNAs, and the number of associated diseases increases with age. As has been observed for genes, the miRNAs associated with different diseases have different age profiles. For example, human miRNAs implicated in cancer are enriched for origins near the dawn of animal multicellularity. Consistent with the increasing contribution of miRNAs to disease with age, older miRNAs target more genes than younger miRNAs, and older miRNAs are expressed in significantly more tissues. Furthermore, miRNAs of all ages exhibit a strong preference to target older genes; 93% of validated miRNA gene targets were in existence at the origin of the targeting miRNA. Finally, we find that human miRNAs in evolutionarily related families are more similar in their targets and expression profiles than unrelated miRNAs.
CONCLUSIONS - Considering the evolutionary origin and history of a miRNA provides useful context for the analysis of its function. Consistent with recent work in Drosophila, our results support a model in which miRNAs increase their expression and functional regulatory interactions over evolutionary time, and thus older miRNAs have increased potential to cause disease. We anticipate that these patterns hold across mammalian species; however, comprehensively evaluating them will require refining miRNA annotations across species and collecting functional data in non-human systems.
We hypothesized that distinct protein expression features of benign and malignant pulmonary nodules may reveal novel candidate biomarkers for the early detection of lung cancer. We performed proteome profiling by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to characterize 34 resected benign lung nodules, 24 untreated lung adenocarcinomas (ADCs), and biopsies of bronchial epithelium. Group comparisons identified 65 proteins that differentiate nodules from ADCs and normal bronchial epithelium and 66 proteins that differentiate ADCs from nodules and normal bronchial epithelium. We developed a multiplexed parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) assay to quantify a subset of 43 of these candidate biomarkers in an independent cohort of 20 benign nodules, 21 ADCs, and 20 normal bronchial biopsies. PRM analyses confirmed significant nodule-specific abundance of 10 proteins including ALOX5, ALOX5AP, CCL19, CILP1, COL5A2, ITGB2, ITGAX, PTPRE, S100A12, and SLC2A3 and significant ADC-specific abundance of CEACAM6, CRABP2, LAD1, PLOD2, and TMEM110-MUSTN1. Immunohistochemistry analyses for seven selected proteins performed on an independent set of tissue microarrays confirmed nodule-specific expression of ALOX5, ALOX5AP, ITGAX, and SLC2A3 and cancer-specific expression of CEACAM6. These studies illustrate the value of global and targeted proteomics in a systematic process to identify and qualify candidate biomarkers for noninvasive molecular diagnosis of lung cancer.