Single-cell RNA-seq reveals cell type-specific molecular and genetic associations to lupus

Science. 2022 Apr 8;376(6589):eabf1970. doi: 10.1126/science.abf1970. Epub 2022 Apr 8.


Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a heterogeneous autoimmune disease. Knowledge of circulating immune cell types and states associated with SLE remains incomplete. We profiled more than 1.2 million peripheral blood mononuclear cells (162 cases, 99 controls) with multiplexed single-cell RNA sequencing (mux-seq). Cases exhibited elevated expression of type 1 interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) in monocytes, reduction of naïve CD4+ T cells that correlated with monocyte ISG expression, and expansion of repertoire-restricted cytotoxic GZMH+ CD8+ T cells. Cell type-specific expression features predicted case-control status and stratified patients into two molecular subtypes. We integrated dense genotyping data to map cell type-specific cis-expression quantitative trait loci and to link SLE-associated variants to cell type-specific expression. These results demonstrate mux-seq as a systematic approach to characterize cellular composition, identify transcriptional signatures, and annotate genetic variants associated with SLE.

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Interferon Type I* / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic* / genetics
  • RNA-Seq
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Interferon Type I