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Genome-scale transcriptional regulatory network models for the mouse and human striatum predict roles for SMAD3 and other transcription factors in Huntington's disease

By Seth Ament, Jocelynn R Pearl, Robert M. Bragg, Peter J Skene, Sydney R. Coffey, Dani E Bergey, Chris L Plaisier, Vanessa C Wheeler, Marcy E MacDonald, Nitin S Baliga, Jim Rosinski, Leroy Hood, Jeffrey B Carroll, Nathan D. Price

Posted 10 Nov 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/087114

Transcriptional changes occur presymptomatically and throughout Huntington's Disease (HD), motivating the study of transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs) in HD. We reconstructed a genome-scale model for the target genes of 718 TFs in the mouse striatum by integrating a model of the genomic binding sites with transcriptome profiling of striatal tissue from HD mouse models. We identified 48 differentially expressed TF-target gene modules associated with age- and Htt allele-dependent gene expression changes in the mouse striatum, and replicated many of these associations in independent transcriptomic and proteomic datasets. Strikingly, many of these predicted target genes were also differentially expressed in striatal tissue from human disease. We experimentally validated a key model prediction that SMAD3 regulates HD-related gene expression changes using chromatin immunoprecipitation and deep sequencing (ChIP-seq) of mouse striatum. We found Htt allele-dependent changes in the genomic occupancy of SMAD3 and confirmed our model's prediction that many SMAD3 target genes are down-regulated early in HD. Importantly, our study provides a mouse and human striatal-specific TRN and prioritizes a hierarchy of transcription factor drivers in HD.

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