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Allele-specific open chromatin in human iPSC neurons elucidates functional non-coding disease variants

By Siwei Zhang, Hanwen Zhang, Min Qiao, Yifan Zhou, Siming Zhao, Alena Kozlova, Jianxin Shi, Alan R Sanders, Gao Wang, Subhajit Sengupta, Siobhan West, Michael Streit, Chad A Cowan, Mengjie Chen, Zhiping P. Pang, Pablo V. Gejman, Xin He, Jubao Duan

Posted 01 Nov 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/827048

Functional interpretation of noncoding disease variants, which likely regulate gene expression, has been challenging. Chromatin accessibility strongly influences gene expression during neurodevelopment; however, to what extent genetic variants can alter chromatin accessibility in the context of brain disorders/traits is unknown. Using human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons as a neurodevelopmental model, we identified abundant open-chromatin regions absent in adult brain samples and thousands of genetic variants exhibiting allele-specific open-chromatin (ASoC). ASoC variants are overrepresented in brain enhancers, transcription-factor-binding sites, and quantitative-trait-loci associated with gene expression, histone modification, and DNA methylation. Notably, compared to open chromatin regions and other commonly used functional annotations, neuronal ASoC variants showed much stronger enrichments of risk variants for various brain disorders/traits. Our study provides the first snapshot of the neuronal ASoC landscape and a powerful framework for prioritizing functional disease variants.

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