Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a complex autoimmune disease involving multiple immune cells. To elucidate SLE pathogenesis, it is essential to understand the dysregulated gene expression pattern linked to various clinical statuses with a high cellular resolution. Here, we conducted a large-scale transcriptome study with 6,386 RNA sequencing data covering 27 immune cell types from 136 SLE and 89 healthy donors. We profiled two distinct cell-type-specific transcriptomic signatures: disease-state and disease-activity signatures, reflecting disease establishment and exacerbation, respectively. We then identified candidate biological processes unique to each signature. This study suggested the clinical value of disease-activity signatures, which were associated with organ involvement and therapeutic responses. However, disease-activity signatures were less enriched around SLE risk variants than disease-state signatures, suggesting that current genetic studies may not well capture clinically vital biology. Together, we identified comprehensive gene signatures of SLE, which will provide essential foundations for future genomic and genetic studies.
Keywords: Immune Cell Gene Expression Atlas from the University of Tokyo; cell-type-specific; disease activity; disease state; immune cell; immunogenetics; organ involvement; systemic lupus erythematosus; therapeutic response; transcriptome.
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