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Dissecting molecular regulatory mechanisms underlying noncoding susceptibility SNPs associated with 19 autoimmune diseases using multi-omics integrative analysis

By Xiao-Feng Chen, Min-Rui Guo, Yuan-Yuan Duan, Feng Jiang, Hao Wu, Shan-Shan Dong, Hlaing Nwe Thynn, Cong-Cong Liu, Lin Zhang, Yan Guo, Tie-Lin Yang

Posted 10 Dec 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/871384

The genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified hundreds of susceptibility loci associated with autoimmune diseases. However, over 90% of risk variants are located in the noncoding regions, leading to great challenges in deciphering the underlying causal functional variants/genes and biological mechanisms. Previous studies focused on developing new scoring method to prioritize functional/disease-relevant variants. However, they principally incorporated annotation data across all cells/tissues while omitted the cell-specific or context-specific regulation. Moreover, limited analyses were performed to dissect the detailed molecular regulatory circuits linking functional GWAS variants to disease etiology. Here we devised a new analysis frame that incorporate hundreds of immune cell-specific multi-omics data to prioritize functional noncoding susceptibility SNPs with gene targets and further dissect their downstream molecular mechanisms and clinical applications for 19 autoimmune diseases. Most prioritized SNPs have genetic associations with transcription factors (TFs) binding, histone modification or chromatin accessibility, indicating their allelic regulatory roles on target genes. Their target genes were significantly enriched in immunologically related pathways and other immunologically related functions. We also detected long-range regulation on 90.7% of target genes including 132 ones exclusively regulated by distal SNPs (eg, CD28 , IL2RA ), which involves several potential key TFs (eg, CTCF), suggesting the important roles of long-range chromatin interaction in autoimmune diseases. Moreover, we identified hundreds of known or predicted druggable genes, and predicted some new potential drug targets for several autoimmune diseases, including two genes ( NFKB1 , SH2B3 ) with known drug indications on other diseases, highlighting their potential drug repurposing opportunities. In summary, our analyses may provide unique resource for future functional follow-up and drug application on autoimmune diseases, which are freely available at http://fngwas.online/.

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