Common genetic polymorphisms associated with COVID-19 illness can be utilized for discovering molecular pathways and cell types driving disease pathogenesis. Given the importance of immune cells in the pathogenesis of COVID-19 illness, here we assessed the effects of COVID-19-risk variants on gene expression in a wide range of immune cell types. Transcriptome-wide association study and colocalization analysis revealed putative causal genes and the specific immune cell types where gene expression is most influenced by COVID-19-risk variants. Notable examples include OAS1 in non-classical monocytes, DTX1 in B cells, IL10RB in NK cells, CXCR6 in follicular helper T cells, CCR9 in regulatory T cells and ARL17A in TH2 cells. By analysis of transposase accessible chromatin and H3K27ac-based chromatin-interaction maps of immune cell types, we prioritized potentially functional COVID-19-risk variants. Our study highlights the potential of COVID-19 genetic risk variants to impact the function of diverse immune cell types and influence severe disease manifestations.
© 2021. The Author(s).