Multiomic Signatures of Chronic Beryllium Disease Bronchoalveolar Lavage Cells Relate to T-Cell Function and Innate Immunity

Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2022 Dec;67(6):632-640. doi: 10.1165/rcmb.2022-0077OC.


Chronic beryllium disease (CBD) is a Th1 granulomatous lung disease preceded by sensitization to beryllium (BeS). We profiled the methylome, transcriptome, and selected proteins in the lung to identify molecular signatures and networks associated with BeS and CBD. BAL cell DNA and RNA were profiled using microarrays from CBD (n = 30), BeS (n = 30), and control subjects (n = 12). BAL fluid proteins were measured using Olink Immune Response Panel proteins from CBD (n = 22) and BeS (n = 22) subjects. Linear models identified features associated with CBD, adjusting for covariation and batch effects. Multiomic integration methods identified correlated features between datasets. We identified 1,546 differentially expressed genes in CBD versus control subjects and 204 in CBD versus BeS. Of the 101 shared transcripts, 24 have significant cis relationships between gene expression and DNA methylation, assessed using expression quantitative trait methylation analysis, including genes not previously identified in CBD. A multiomic model of top DNA methylation and gene expression features demonstrated that the first component separated CBD from other samples and the second component separated control subjects from remaining samples. The top features on component one were enriched for T-lymphocyte function, and the top features on component two were enriched for innate immune signaling. We identified six differentially abundant proteins in CBD versus BeS, with two (SIT1 and SH2D1A) selected as important RNA features in the multiomic model. Our integrated analysis of DNA methylation, gene expression, and proteins in the lung identified multiomic signatures of CBD that differentiated it from BeS and control subjects.

Keywords: DNA methylation; gene expression; multiomics; protein profiling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Berylliosis* / genetics
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • RNA
  • T-Lymphocytes


  • BES
  • RNA