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Determining the genetic basis of anthracycline-cardiotoxicity by molecular response QTL mapping in induced cardiomyocytes

By David A. Knowles, Courtney K Burrows, John D. Blischak, Kristen M. Patterson, Carole Ober, Jonathan K Pritchard, Yoav Gilad

Posted 01 Nov 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/212381 (published DOI: 10.7554/elife.33480)

Anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity (ACT) is a key limiting factor in setting optimal chemotherapy regimes for cancer patients, with almost half of patients expected to ultimately develop congestive heart failure given high drug doses. However, the genetic basis of sensitivity to anthracyclines such as doxorubicin remains unclear. To begin addressing this, we created a panel of iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes from 45 individuals and performed RNA-seq after 24h exposure to varying levels of doxorubicin. The transcriptomic response to doxorubicin is substantial, with the majority of genes being differentially expressed across treatments of different concentrations and over 6000 genes showing evidence of differential splicing. Overall, our observations indicate that splicing fidelity decreases in the presence of doxorubicin. We were able to detect 376 response-expression QTLs and 42 response-splicing QTLs, i.e. genetic variants that modulate the individual transcriptomic response to doxorubicin in terms of expression and splicing changes respectively. We show that inter-individual variation in transcriptional response is predictive of cell damage measured in vitro using a cardiac troponin assay, which in turn is shown to be associated with in vivo ACT risk. Finally, the molecular QTLs we detected are enriched in lower ACT GWAS p-values, further supporting the in vivo relevance of our map of genetic regulation of cellular response to anthracyclines.

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