• Mendelian randomization while jointly modeling cis genetics identifies causal relationships between gene expression and lipids.

      van der Graaf, Adriaan; Claringbould, Annique; Rimbert, Antoine; Westra, Harm-Jan; Li, Yang; Wijmenga, Cisca; Sanna, Serena; CiiM, Zentrum für individualisierte Infektionsmedizin, Feodor-Lynen-Str.7, 30625 Hannover. (Nature publishing group (NPG), 2020-10-01)
      Inference of causality between gene expression and complex traits using Mendelian randomization (MR) is confounded by pleiotropy and linkage disequilibrium (LD) of gene-expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). Here, we propose an MR method, MR-link, that accounts for unobserved pleiotropy and LD by leveraging information from individual-level data, even when only one eQTL variant is present. In simulations, MR-link shows false-positive rates close to expectation (median 0.05) and high power (up to 0.89), outperforming all other tested MR methods and coloc. Application of MR-link to low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) measurements in 12,449 individuals with expression and protein QTL summary statistics from blood and liver identifies 25 genes causally linked to LDL-C. These include the known SORT1 and ApoE genes as well as PVRL2, located in the APOE locus, for which a causal role in liver was not known. Our results showcase the strength of MR-link for transcriptome-wide causal inferences.
    • Tissue alarmins and adaptive cytokine induce dynamic and distinct transcriptional responses in tissue-resident intraepithelial cytotoxic T lymphocytes.

      Zorro, Maria Magdalena; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raul; Mayassi, Toufic; Ciszewski, Cezary; Barisani, Donatella; Hu, Shixian; Weersma, Rinse K; Withoff, Sebo; Li, Yang; Wijmenga, Cisca; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-02-04)
      The respective effects of tissue alarmins interleukin (IL)-15 and interferon beta (IFNβ), and IL-21 produced by T cells on the reprogramming of cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) that cause tissue destruction in celiac disease is poorly understood. Transcriptomic and epigenetic profiling of primary intestinal CTLs showed massive and distinct temporal transcriptional changes in response to tissue alarmins, while the impact of IL-21 was limited. Only anti-viral pathways were induced in response to all the three stimuli, albeit with differences in dynamics and strength. Moreover, changes in gene expression were primarily independent of changes in H3K27ac, suggesting that other regulatory mechanisms drive the robust transcriptional response. Finally, we found that IL-15/IFNβ/IL-21 transcriptional signatures could be linked to transcriptional alterations in risk loci for complex immune diseases. Together these results provide new insights into molecular mechanisms that fuel the activation of CTLs under conditions that emulate the inflammatory environment in patients with autoimmune diseases.