meQTL and ncRNA functional analyses of 102 GWAS-SNPs associated with depression implicate HACE1 and SHANK2 genes.

Ciuculete DM, Voisin S, Kular L, Jonsson J, Rask-Andersen M, Mwinyi J, Schiƶth HB

Clin Epigenetics 12 (1) 99 [2020-07-02; online 2020-07-02]

Little is known about how genetics and epigenetics interplay in depression. Evidence suggests that genetic variants may change vulnerability to depression by modulating DNA methylation (DNAm) and non-coding RNA (ncRNA) levels. Therefore, the aim of the study was to investigate the effect of the genetic variation, previously identified in the largest genome-wide association study for depression, on proximal DNAm and ncRNA levels. We performed DNAm quantitative trait locus (meQTL) analysis in two independent cohorts (total n = 435 healthy individuals), testing associations between 102 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and DNAm levels in whole blood. We identified and replicated 64 SNP-CpG pairs (p adj. < 0.05) with meQTL effect. Lower DNAm at cg02098413 located in the HACE1 promoter conferred by the risk allele (C allele) at rs1933802 was associated with higher risk for depression (praw = 0.014, DNAm = 2.3%). In 1202 CD14+ cells sorted from blood, DNAm at cg02088412 positively correlated with HACE1 mRNA expression. Investigation in postmortem brain tissue of adults diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) indicated 1% higher DNAm at cg02098413 in neurons and lower HACE1 mRNA expression in CA1 hippocampus of MDD patients compared with healthy controls (p = 0.008 and 0.012, respectively). Expression QTL analysis in blood of 74 adolescent revealed that hsa-miR-3664-5p was associated with rs7117514 (SHANK2) (padj. = 0.015, mRNA difference = 5.2%). Gene ontology analysis of the miRNA target genes highlighted implication in neuronal processes. Collectively, our findings from a multi-tissue (blood and brain) and multi-layered (genetic, epigenetic, transcriptomic) approach suggest that genetic factors may influence depression by modulating DNAm and miRNA levels. Alterations at HACE1 and SHANK2 loci imply potential mechanisms, such as oxidative stress in the brain, underlying depression. Our results deepened the knowledge of molecular mechanisms in depression and suggest new epigenetic targets that should be further evaluated.

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

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PubMed 32616021

DOI 10.1186/s13148-020-00884-8

Crossref 10.1186/s13148-020-00884-8

pii: 10.1186/s13148-020-00884-8
pmc: PMC7333393