Genome-wide identification of microRNA expression quantitative trait loci.

Huan T, Rong J, Liu C, Zhang X, Tanriverdi K, Joehanes R, Chen BH, Murabito JM, Yao C, Courchesne P, Munson PJ, O'Donnell CJ, Cox N, Johnson AD, Larson MG, Levy D, Freedman JE
Nat Commun. 2015 6: 6601

PMID: 25791433 · PMCID: PMC4369777 · DOI:10.1038/ncomms7601

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.

MeSH Terms (15)

Adult Aged Chromosome Mapping Female Gene Expression Profiling Genome-Wide Association Study Genotyping Techniques Humans Male MicroRNAs Middle Aged Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide Quantitative Trait Loci Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction

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