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High throughput characterization of genetic effects on DNA:protein binding and gene transcription

By Cynthia A. Kalita, Christopher D. Brown, Andrew Freiman, Jenna Isherwood, Xiaoquan Wen, Roger Pique-Regi, Francesca Luca

Posted 27 Feb 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/270991 (published DOI: 10.1101/gr.237354.118)

Many variants associated with complex traits are in non-coding regions, and contribute to phenotypes by disrupting regulatory sequences. To characterize these variants, we developed a streamlined protocol for a high-throughput reporter assay, BiT-STARR-seq (Biallelic Targeted STARR-seq), that identifies allele-specific expression (ASE) while accounting for PCR duplicates through unique molecular identifiers. We tested 75,501 oligos (43,500 SNPs) and identified 2,720 SNPs with significant ASE (FDR 10%). To validate disruption of binding as one of the mechanisms underlying ASE, we performed a high throughput binding assay for NFKB-p50. We identified 2,951 SNPs with allele-specific binding (ASB) (FDR 10%); 173 of these SNPs also had ASE (OR=1.97, p-value=0.0006). Of variants associated with complex traits, 1,531 resulted in ASE and 1,662 showed ASB. For example, we characterized that the Crohn's disease risk variant for rs3810936 increases NFKB binding and results in altered gene expression.

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