Non-syndromic cleft lip with or without cleft palate (nsCL/P) is a common congenital facial malformation with a multifactorial etiology. Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have identified multiple genetic risk loci. However, functional interpretation of these loci is hampered by the underrepresentation in public resources of systematic functional maps representative of human embryonic facial development. To generate novel insights into the etiology of nsCL/P, we leveraged published GWAS data on nsCL/P as well as available chromatin modification and expression data on mid-facial development. Our analyses identified five novel risk loci, prioritized candidate target genes within associated regions, and highlighted distinct pathways. Furthermore, the results suggest the presence of distinct regulatory effects of nsCL/P risk variants throughout mid-facial development and shed light on its regulatory architecture. Our integrated data provide a platform to advance hypothesis-driven molecular investigations of nsCL/P and other human facial defects.
Keywords: GWAS; chromatin mark; cleft; craniofacial development; regulatory effects.
© 2021 The Authors.