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Disease and phenotype relevant genetic variants identified from histone acetylomes in human hearts

By Wilson Lek Wen Tan, Chukwuemeka George Anene-Nzelu, Eleanor Wong, Hui San Tan, Pan Bangfen, Chang Jie Mick Lee, Matias Ilmari Autio, Michael P. Morley, Kenneth B Margulies, Thomas P. Cappola, Marie Loh, John Chambers, Shyam Prabhakar, Roger Foo

Posted 31 Jan 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/536763

Identifying genetic markers for heterogeneous complex diseases such as heart failure has been challenging, and may require prohibitively large cohort sizes in genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in order to demonstrate statistical significance1. On the other hand, chromatin quantitative trait loci (QTL), elucidated by direct epigenetic profiling of specific human tissues, may contribute towards prioritising variants for disease-association. Here, we captured non-coding genetic variants by performing enhancer H3K27ac ChIP-seq in 70 human control and end-stage failing hearts, mapping out a comprehensive catalogue of 47,321 putative human heart enhancers. 3,897 differential acetylation peaks (FDR < 0.05) pointed to recognizable pathways altered in heart failure (HF). To identify cardiac histone acetylation QTLs (haQTLs), we regressed out confounding factors including HF disease status, and employed the G-SCI test2 to call out 1,680 haQTLs (FDR < 0.1). A subset of these showed significant association to gene expression, either in cis (180), or through long range interactions (81), identified by Hi-C and Hi-ChIP performed on a subset of hearts. Furthermore, a concordant relationship was found between the gain or disruption of specific transcription factor (TF) binding motifs, inferred from alternative alleles at the haQTLs, associated with altered H3K27ac peak heights. Finally, colocalisation of our haQTLs with heart-related GWAS datasets allowed us to identify 62 unique loci. Disease-association for these new loci may indeed be mediated through modification of H3K27-acetylation enrichment and their corresponding gene expression differences.

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