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Pancreatic islet chromatin accessibility and conformation defines distal enhancer networks of type 2 diabetes risk

By William W. Greenwald, Joshua Chiou, Jian Yan, Yunjiang Qiu, Ning Dai, Allen Wang, Naoki Nariai, Anthony Aylward, Jee Yun Han, Nikita Kadakia, Laura Barrufet, Mei-Lin Okino, Frauke Drees, Nicholas Vinckier, Liliana Minichiello, David Gorkin, Joseph Avruch, Kelly Frazer, Maike Sander, Bing Ren, Kyle J Gaulton

Posted 20 Apr 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/299388

The gene targets of enhancer activity in pancreatic islets are largely unknown, impeding discovery of islet regulatory networks involved in type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk. We mapped chromatin state, accessibility and conformation using ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq and Hi-C in human pancreatic islets, which we integrated with T2D genetic fine-mapping and islet expression QTL data. Active islet regulatory elements preferentially interacted with other active elements, often at distances over 1MB, and we identified target genes for thousands of distal islet enhancers. A third of T2D risk signals mapped in islet enhancers, and target genes regulated by these signals were specifically involved in processes related to protein transport and secretion. Among implicated target genes of T2D islet enhancer signals with no prior known role in islet function, we demonstrated that reduced IGF2BP2 activity in mouse islets leads to impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. These results link distal islet enhancer regulation of protein secretion and transport to genetic risk of T2D, and highlight the utility of high-throughput chromatin conformation maps to uncover the gene regulatory networks of complex disease.

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