Fine-mapping cis-regulatory variants in diverse human populations

Elife. 2019 Jan 16;8:e39595. doi: 10.7554/eLife.39595.

Abstract

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are a powerful approach for connecting genotype to phenotype. Most GWAS hits are located in cis-regulatory regions, but the underlying causal variants and their molecular mechanisms remain unknown. To better understand human cis-regulatory variation, we mapped quantitative trait loci for chromatin accessibility (caQTLs)-a key step in cis-regulation-in 1000 individuals from 10 diverse populations. Most caQTLs were shared across populations, allowing us to leverage the genetic diversity to fine-map candidate causal regulatory variants, several thousand of which have been previously implicated in GWAS. In addition, many caQTLs that affect the expression of distal genes also alter the landscape of long-range chromosomal interactions, suggesting a mechanism for long-range expression QTLs. In sum, our results show that molecular QTL mapping integrated across diverse populations provides a high-resolution view of how worldwide human genetic variation affects chromatin accessibility, gene expression, and phenotype.

Editorial note: This article has been through an editorial process in which the authors decide how to respond to the issues raised during peer review. The Reviewing Editor's assessment is that minor issues remain unresolved (see decision letter).

Keywords: chromatin; chromosomes; fine-mapping; gene expression; genetics; genomics; gwas; human; qtl; transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Chromosome Mapping / methods*
  • Chromosomes, Human / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Protein Binding
  • Quantitative Trait Loci / genetics
  • Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism

Substances

  • Chromatin
  • Transcription Factors