Single-nucleus chromatin accessibility profiling highlights regulatory mechanisms of coronary artery disease risk

Nat Genet. 2022 Jun;54(6):804-816. doi: 10.1038/s41588-022-01069-0. Epub 2022 May 19.


Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a complex inflammatory disease involving genetic influences across cell types. Genome-wide association studies have identified over 200 loci associated with CAD, where the majority of risk variants reside in noncoding DNA sequences impacting cis-regulatory elements. Here, we applied single-nucleus assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with sequencing to profile 28,316 nuclei across coronary artery segments from 41 patients with varying stages of CAD, which revealed 14 distinct cellular clusters. We mapped ~320,000 accessible sites across all cells, identified cell-type-specific elements and transcription factors, and prioritized functional CAD risk variants. We identified elements in smooth muscle cell transition states (for example, fibromyocytes) and functional variants predicted to alter smooth muscle cell- and macrophage-specific regulation of MRAS (3q22) and LIPA (10q23), respectively. We further nominated key driver transcription factors such as PRDM16 and TBX2. Together, this single-nucleus atlas provides a critical step towards interpreting regulatory mechanisms across the continuum of CAD risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Chromatin / genetics
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / genetics
  • Coronary Artery Disease* / metabolism
  • Genome-Wide Association Study*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Transcription Factors