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Genome-scale transcriptional regulatory network models of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders

By Jocelynn R Pearl, Dani E Bergey, Cory C Funk, Bijoya Basu, Rediet Oshone, Paul Shannon, Leroy Hood, Nathan D Price, Carlo Colantuoni, Seth A Ament

Posted 19 Sep 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/190959 (published DOI: 10.1016/j.cels.2019.01.002)

Genetic and genomic studies suggest an important role for transcriptional regulatory changes in brain diseases, but roles for specific transcription factors (TFs) remain poorly understood. We integrated human brain-specific DNase I footprinting and TF-gene co-expression to reconstruct a transcriptional regulatory network (TRN) model for the human brain, predicting the brain-specific binding sites and target genes for 741 TFs. We used this model to predict core TFs involved in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Our results suggest that disease-related transcriptomic and genetic changes converge on small sets of disease-specific regulators, with distinct networks underlying neurodegenerative vs. psychiatric diseases. Core TFs were frequently implicated in a disease through multiple mechanisms, including differential expression of their target genes, disruption of their binding sites by disease-associated SNPs, and associations of the genetic loci encoding these TFs with disease risk. We validated our model's predictions through systematic comparison to publicly available ChIP-seq and TF perturbation studies and through experimental studies in primary human neural stem cells. Combined genetic and transcriptional evidence supports roles for neuronal and microglia-enriched, MEF2C-regulated networks in Alzheimer's disease; an oligodendrocyte-enriched, SREBF1-regulated network in schizophrenia; and a neural stem cell and astrocyte-enriched, POU3F2-regulated network in bipolar disorder. We provide our models of brain-specific TF binding sites and target genes as a resource for network analysis of brain diseases.

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