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    Power, false discovery rate and Winner's Curse in eQTL studies
    Huang, QQ ; Ritchie, SC ; Brozynska, M ; Inouye, M (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2018-12-14)
    Investigation of the genetic architecture of gene expression traits has aided interpretation of disease and trait-associated genetic variants; however, key aspects of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) study design and analysis remain understudied. We used extensive, empirically driven simulations to explore eQTL study design and the performance of various analysis strategies. Across multiple testing correction methods, false discoveries of genes with eQTLs (eGenes) were substantially inflated when false discovery rate (FDR) control was applied to all tests and only appropriately controlled using hierarchical procedures. All multiple testing correction procedures had low power and inflated FDR for eGenes whose causal SNPs had small allele frequencies using small sample sizes (e.g. frequency <10% in 100 samples), indicating that even moderately low frequency eQTL SNPs (eSNPs) in these studies are enriched for false discoveries. In scenarios with ≥80% power, the top eSNP was the true simulated eSNP 90% of the time, but substantially less frequently for very common eSNPs (minor allele frequencies >25%). Overestimation of eQTL effect sizes, so-called 'Winner's Curse', was common in low and moderate power settings. To address this, we developed a bootstrap method (BootstrapQTL) that led to more accurate effect size estimation. These insights provide a foundation for future eQTL studies, especially those with sampling constraints and subtly different conditions.
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    An interaction map of circulating metabolites, immune gene networks, and their genetic regulation
    Nath, AP ; Ritchie, SC ; Byars, SG ; Fearnley, LG ; Havulinna, AS ; Joensuu, A ; Kangas, AJ ; Soininen, P ; Wennerstrom, A ; Milani, L ; Metspalu, A ; Mannisto, S ; Wurtz, P ; Kettunen, J ; Raitoharju, E ; Kahonen, M ; Juonala, M ; Palotie, A ; Ala-Korpela, M ; Ripatti, S ; Lehtimaki, T ; Abraham, G ; Raitakari, O ; Salomaa, V ; Perola, M ; Inouye, M (BMC, 2017-08-01)
    BACKGROUND: Immunometabolism plays a central role in many cardiometabolic diseases. However, a robust map of immune-related gene networks in circulating human cells, their interactions with metabolites, and their genetic control is still lacking. Here, we integrate blood transcriptomic, metabolomic, and genomic profiles from two population-based cohorts (total N = 2168), including a subset of individuals with matched multi-omic data at 7-year follow-up. RESULTS: We identify topologically replicable gene networks enriched for diverse immune functions including cytotoxicity, viral response, B cell, platelet, neutrophil, and mast cell/basophil activity. These immune gene modules show complex patterns of association with 158 circulating metabolites, including lipoprotein subclasses, lipids, fatty acids, amino acids, small molecules, and CRP. Genome-wide scans for module expression quantitative trait loci (mQTLs) reveal five modules with mQTLs that have both cis and trans effects. The strongest mQTL is in ARHGEF3 (rs1354034) and affects a module enriched for platelet function, independent of platelet counts. Modules of mast cell/basophil and neutrophil function show temporally stable metabolite associations over 7-year follow-up, providing evidence that these modules and their constituent gene products may play central roles in metabolic inflammation. Furthermore, the strongest mQTL in ARHGEF3 also displays clear temporal stability, supporting widespread trans effects at this locus. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides a detailed map of natural variation at the blood immunometabolic interface and its genetic basis, and may facilitate subsequent studies to explain inter-individual variation in cardiometabolic disease.
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    Comparative analysis reveals a role for TGF-beta in shaping the residency-related transcriptional signature in tissue-resident memory CD8(+) T cells
    Nath, AP ; Braun, A ; Ritchie, SC ; Carbone, FR ; Mackay, LK ; Gebhardt, T ; Inouye, M ; Gangopadhyay, N (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-02-11)
    Tissue-resident CD8+ memory T (TRM) cells are immune cells that permanently reside at tissue sites where they play an important role in providing rapid protection against reinfection. They are not only phenotypically and functionally distinct from their circulating memory counterparts, but also exhibit a unique transcriptional profile. To date, the local tissue signals required for their development and long-term residency are not well understood. So far, the best-characterised tissue-derived signal is transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), which has been shown to promote the development of these cells within tissues. In this study, we aimed to determine to what extent the transcriptional signatures of TRM cells from multiple tissues reflects TGF-β imprinting. We activated murine CD8+ T cells, stimulated them in vitro by TGF-β, and profiled their transcriptomes using RNA-seq. Upon comparison, we identified a TGF-β-induced signature of differentially expressed genes between TGF-β-stimulated and -unstimulated cells. Next, we linked this in vitro TGF-β-induced signature to a previously identified in vivo TRM-specific gene set and found considerable (>50%) overlap between the two gene sets, thus showing that a substantial part of the TRM signature can be attributed to TGF-β signalling. Finally, gene set enrichment analysis further revealed that the altered gene signature following TGF-β exposure reflected transcriptional signatures found in TRM cells from both epithelial and non-epithelial tissues. In summary, these findings show that TGF-β has a broad footprint in establishing the residency-specific transcriptional profile of TRM cells, which is detectable in TRM cells from diverse tissues. They further suggest that constitutive TGF-β signaling might be involved for their long-term persistence at tissue sites.
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    Elevated serum alpha-1 antitrypsin is a major component of GlycA-associated risk for future morbidity and mortality
    Ritchie, SC ; Kettunen, J ; Brozynska, M ; Nath, AP ; Havulinna, AS ; Maennist, S ; Perola, M ; Salomaa, V ; Ala-Korpela, M ; Abraham, G ; Wuertz, P ; Inouye, M ; Feng, Y-M (PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2019-10-23)
    BACKGROUND: GlycA is a nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy biomarker that predicts risk of disease from myriad causes. It is heterogeneous; arising from five circulating glycoproteins with dynamic concentrations: alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT), alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP), haptoglobin (HP), transferrin (TF), and alpha-1-antichymotrypsin (AACT). The contributions of each glycoprotein to the disease and mortality risks predicted by GlycA remain unknown. METHODS: We trained imputation models for AAT, AGP, HP, and TF from NMR metabolite measurements in 626 adults from a population cohort with matched NMR and immunoassay data. Levels of AAT, AGP, and HP were estimated in 11,861 adults from two population cohorts with eight years of follow-up, then each biomarker was tested for association with all common endpoints. Whole blood gene expression data was used to identify cellular processes associated with elevated AAT. RESULTS: Accurate imputation models were obtained for AAT, AGP, and HP but not for TF. While AGP had the strongest correlation with GlycA, our analysis revealed variation in imputed AAT levels was the most predictive of morbidity and mortality for the widest range of diseases over the eight year follow-up period, including heart failure (meta-analysis hazard ratio = 1.60 per standard deviation increase of AAT, P-value = 1×10-10), influenza and pneumonia (HR = 1.37, P = 6×10-10), and liver diseases (HR = 1.81, P = 1×10-6). Transcriptional analyses revealed association of elevated AAT with diverse inflammatory immune pathways. CONCLUSIONS: This study clarifies the molecular underpinnings of the GlycA biomarker's associated disease risk, and indicates a previously unrecognised association between elevated AAT and severe disease onset and mortality.
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    Neonatal genetics of gene expression reveal potential origins of autoimmune and allergic disease risk
    Huang, QQ ; Tang, HHF ; Teo, SM ; Mok, D ; Ritchie, SC ; Nath, AP ; Brozynska, M ; Salim, A ; Bakshi, A ; Holt, BJ ; Khor, CC ; Sly, PD ; Holt, PG ; Holt, KE ; Inouye, M (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2020-07-28)
    Chronic immune-mediated diseases of adulthood often originate in early childhood. To investigate genetic associations between neonatal immunity and disease, we map expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs) in resting myeloid cells and CD4+ T cells from cord blood samples, as well as in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or phytohemagglutinin (PHA) stimulation, respectively. Cis-eQTLs are largely specific to cell type or stimulation, and 31% and 52% of genes with cis-eQTLs have response eQTLs (reQTLs) in myeloid cells and T cells, respectively. We identified cis regulatory factors acting as mediators of trans effects. There is extensive colocalisation between condition-specific neonatal cis-eQTLs and variants associated with immune-mediated diseases, in particular CTSH had widespread colocalisation across diseases. Mendelian randomisation shows causal neonatal gene expression effects on disease risk for BTN3A2, HLA-C and others. Our study elucidates the genetics of gene expression in neonatal immune cells, and aetiological origins of autoimmune and allergic diseases.