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Modest changes in Spi1 dosage reveal the potential for altered microglial function as seen in Alzheimers disease

By Ruth E. Jones, Robert Andrews, Peter Holmans, Matthew Hill, Philip R Taylor

Posted 15 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.12.430903

Genetic association studies have identified multiple variants at the SPI1 locus that modify risk and age of onset for Alzheimers Disease (AD). Reports linking risk variants to gene expression suggest that variants denoting higher SPI1 expression are likely to have an earlier AD onset, and several other AD risk genes contain PU.1 binding sites in the promoter region. Overall, this suggests altered levels of SPi1 may alter microglial phenotype potentially impacting AD. This study determined how the mouse microglial transcriptome was altered following modest changes to Spi1 expression in primary microglia. RNA-sequencing was performed on microglia with reduced or increased Spi1/PU.1 expression to provide an unbiased approach to determine transcriptomic changes affected by Spi1. In summary, a reduction in microglial Spi1 resulted in the dysregulation of transcripts encoding proteins involved in DNA replication pathways while an increased Spi1 results in an upregulation of genes associated with immune response pathways. Additionally, a subset of 194 Spi1 dose-sensitive genes was identified and pathway analysis suggests that several innate immune and interferon response pathways are impacted by the concentration of Spi1. Together these results suggest Spi1 levels can alter the microglial transcriptome and suggests interferon pathways may be altered in individuals with AD related Spi1 risk SNPs.

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