Unlike single-gene mutations leading to Mendelian conditions, common human diseases are likely to be emergent phenomena arising from multilayer, multiscale, and highly interconnected interactions. Atrial and ventricular septal defects are the most common forms of cardiac congenital anomalies in humans. Atrial septal defects (ASD) show an open communication between the left and right atria postnatally, potentially resulting in serious hemodynamic consequences if untreated. A milder form of atrial septal defect, patent foramen ovale (PFO), exists in about one-quarter of the human population, strongly associated with ischaemic stroke and migraine. The anatomic liabilities and genetic and molecular basis of atrial septal defects remain unclear. Here, we advance our previous analysis of atrial septal variation through quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping of an advanced intercross line (AIL) established between the inbred QSi5 and 129T2/SvEms mouse strains, that show extremes of septal phenotypes. Analysis resolved 37 unique septal QTL with high overlap between QTL for distinct septal traits and PFO as a binary trait. Whole genome sequencing of parental strains and filtering identified predicted functional variants, including in known human congenital heart disease genes. Transcriptome analysis of developing septa revealed downregulation of networks involving ribosome, nucleosome, mitochondrial, and extracellular matrix biosynthesis in the 129T2/SvEms strain, potentially reflecting an essential role for growth and cellular maturation in septal development. Analysis of variant architecture across different gene features, including enhancers and promoters, provided evidence for the involvement of non-coding as well as protein-coding variants. Our study provides the first high-resolution picture of genetic complexity and network liability underlying common congenital heart disease, with relevance to human ASD and PFO.
Keywords: cardiac congenital defects; developmental biology; genetics; genomics; mouse; quantitative trait loci.
© 2023, Moradi Marjaneh, Kirk, Patrick et al.