Title: Implicating candidate genes at GWAS signals by leveraging topologically associating domains.
Authors: Way, Gregory P; Youngstrom, Daniel W; Hankenson, Kurt D; Greene, Casey S; Grant, Struan Fa
Published In Eur J Hum Genet, (2017 11)
Abstract: Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have contributed significantly to the understanding of complex disease genetics. However, GWAS only report association signals and do not necessarily identify culprit genes. As most signals occur in non-coding regions of the genome, it is often challenging to assign genomic variants to the underlying causal mechanism(s). Topologically associating domains (TADs) are primarily cell-type-independent genomic regions that define interactome boundaries and can aid in the designation of limits within which an association most likely impacts gene function. We describe and validate a computational method that uses the genic content of TADs to prioritize candidate genes. Our method, called 'TAD_Pathways', performs a Gene Ontology (GO) analysis over genes that reside within TAD boundaries corresponding to GWAS signals for a given trait or disease. Applying our pipeline to the bone mineral density (BMD) GWAS catalog, we identify 'Skeletal System Development' (Benjamini-Hochberg adjusted P=1.02x10-5) as the top-ranked pathway. In many cases, our method implicated a gene other than the nearest gene. Our molecular experiments describe a novel example: ACP2, implicated near the canonical 'ARHGAP1' locus. We found ACP2 to be an important regulator of osteoblast metabolism, whereas ARHGAP1 was not supported. Our results via BMD, for example, demonstrate how basic principles of three-dimensional genome organization can define biologically informed association windows.
PubMed ID: 28792001
MeSH Terms: Acid Phosphatase/genetics; Bone Density/genetics; Cell Line; GTPase-Activating Proteins/genetics; Genetic Loci; Genome-Wide Association Study/methods*; Humans; Regulatory Sequences, Nucleic Acid/genetics