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Leveraging single-cell ATAC-seq to identify disease-critical fetal and adult brain cell types

By Samuel S Kim, Karthik A. Jagadeesh, Kushal K Dey, Amber Z Shen, Soumya Raychaudhuri, Manolis Kellis, Alkes Price

Posted 21 May 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.05.20.445067

Prioritizing disease-critical cell types by integrating genome-wide association studies (GWAS) with functional data is a fundamental goal. Single-cell chromatin accessibility (scATAC-seq) and gene expression (scRNA-seq) have characterized cell types at high resolution, and early work on integrating GWAS with scRNA-seq has shown promise, but work on integrating GWAS with scATAC-seq has been limited. Here, we identify disease-critical fetal and adult brain cell types by integrating GWAS summary statistics from 28 brain-related diseases and traits (average N=298K) with 3.2 million scATAC-seq and scRNA-seq profiles from 83 cell types. We identified disease-critical fetal (resp. adult) brain cell types for 22 (resp. 23) of 28 traits using scATAC-seq data, and for 8 (resp. 17) of 28 traits using scRNA-seq data. Notable findings using scATAC-seq data included highly significant enrichments of fetal photoreceptor cells for major depressive disorder, fetal ganglion cells for BMI, fetal astrocytes for ADHD, and adult VGLUT2 excitatory neurons for schizophrenia. Our findings improve our understanding of brain-related diseases and traits, and inform future analyses of other diseases/traits.

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