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Feasibility of constructing multi-dimensional genomic maps of juvenile idiopathic arthritis

By Lisha Zhu, Kaiyu Jiang, Laiping Wong, Michael J. Buck, Yanmin Chen, Halima Moncrieffe, Laura A. McIntosh, Kathleen M. O’Neil, Tao Liu, Xiaoyun Xing, Daofeng Li, Ting Wang, James N. Jarvis

Posted 18 Jun 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/349811

Background - Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood. Like many common chronic human illnesses, JIA likely involves complex interactions between genes and the environment, mediated by the epigenome. Such interactions are best understood through multi-dimensional genomic maps that identify critical genetic and epigenetic components of the disease. However, constructing such maps in a cost-effective way is challenging, and this challenge is further complicated by the challenge of obtaining biospecimens from pediatric patients at time of disease diagnosis, prior to therapy, as well as the limited quantity of biospecimen that can be obtained from children,particularly those who are unwell. In this paper, we demonstrate the feasibility and utility of creating multi-dimensional genomic maps for JIA from limited sample numbers. Methods - To accomplish our aims, we used an approach similar to that used in the ENCODE and Roadmap Epigenomics projects, which used only 2 replicates for each component of the genomic maps. We used genome-wide DNA methylation sequencing, whole genome sequencing on the Illumina 10x platform, RNA sequencing, and chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing for informative histone marks (H3K4me1 and H3K27ac) to construct a multi-dimensional map of JIA neutrophils, a cell we have shown to be important in the pathobiology of JIA . Results - The epigenomes of JIA neutrophils display numerous differences from those from healthy children. DNA methylation changes, however, had only a weak effect on differential gene expression. In contrast, H3K4me1 and H3K27ac, commonly associated with enhancer functions, strongly correlated with gene expression. Furthermore, although unique/novel enhancer marks were associated with insertion-deletion events (indels) identified on whole genome sequencing, we saw no strong association between epigenetic changes and underlying genetic variation. The initiation of treatment in JIA is associated with a re-ordering of both DNA methylation and histone modifications, demonstrating the plasticity of the epigenome in this setting. Conclusions These findings, generated from a small number of patient samples, demonstrate how multidimensional genomic studies may yield new understandings of biology of JIA and provide insight into how therapy alters gene expression patterns.

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