Studies of liver tissue identify functional gene regulatory elements associated to gene expression, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic diseases

Cavalli M, Baltzer N, Pan G, Bárcenas Walls JR, Smolinska Garbulowska K, Kumar C, Skrtic S, Komorowski J, Wadelius C

Hum Genomics 13 (1) 20 [2019-12-00; online 2019-04-29]

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of diseases and traits have found associations to gene regions but not the functional SNP or the gene mediating the effect. Difference in gene regulatory signals can be detected using chromatin immunoprecipitation and next-gen sequencing (ChIP-seq) of transcription factors or histone modifications by aligning reads to known polymorphisms in individual genomes. The aim was to identify such regulatory elements in the human liver to understand the genetics behind type 2 diabetes and metabolic diseases. The genome of liver tissue was sequenced using 10X Genomics technology to call polymorphic positions. Using ChIP-seq for two histone modifications, H3K4me3 and H3K27ac, and the transcription factor CTCF, and our established bioinformatics pipeline, we detected sites with significant difference in signal between the alleles. We detected 2329 allele-specific SNPs (AS-SNPs) including 25 associated to GWAS SNPs linked to liver biology, e.g., 4 AS-SNPs at two type 2 diabetes loci. Two hundred ninety-two AS-SNPs were associated to liver gene expression in GTEx, and 134 AS-SNPs were located on 166 candidate functional motifs and most of them in EGR1-binding sites. This study provides a valuable collection of candidate liver regulatory elements for further experimental validation.

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

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

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PubMed 31036066

DOI 10.1186/s40246-019-0204-8

Crossref 10.1186/s40246-019-0204-8

pii: 10.1186/s40246-019-0204-8
pmc: PMC6489362