• 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.
    • Systematic Prioritization of Candidate Genes in Disease Loci Identifies as a Master Regulator of IFNγ Signaling in Celiac Disease.

      van der Graaf, Adriaan; Zorro, Maria M; Claringbould, Annique; Võsa, Urmo; Aguirre-Gamboa, Raúl; Li, Chan; Mooiweer, Joram; Ricaño-Ponce, Isis; Borek, Zuzanna; Koning, Frits; et al. (Frontiers, 2021-01-25)
      Celiac disease (CeD) is a complex T cell-mediated enteropathy induced by gluten. Although genome-wide association studies have identified numerous genomic regions associated with CeD, it is difficult to accurately pinpoint which genes in these loci are most likely to cause CeD. We used four different in silico approaches-Mendelian randomization inverse variance weighting, COLOC, LD overlap, and DEPICT-to integrate information gathered from a large transcriptomics dataset. This identified 118 prioritized genes across 50 CeD-associated regions. Co-expression and pathway analysis of these genes indicated an association with adaptive and innate cytokine signaling and T cell activation pathways. Fifty-one of these genes are targets of known drug compounds or likely druggable genes, suggesting that our methods can be used to pinpoint potential therapeutic targets. In addition, we detected 172 gene combinations that were affected by our CeD-prioritized genes in trans. Notably, 41 of these trans-mediated genes appear to be under control of one master regulator, TRAF-type zinc finger domain containing 1 (TRAFD1), and were found to be involved in interferon (IFN)γ signaling and MHC I antigen processing/presentation. Finally, we performed in vitro experiments in a human monocytic cell line that validated the role of TRAFD1 as an immune regulator acting in trans. Our strategy confirmed the role of adaptive immunity in CeD and revealed a genetic link between CeD and IFNγ signaling as well as with MHC I antigen processing, both major players of immune activation and CeD pathogenesis.