Massively parallel reporter assays combined with cell-type specific eQTL informed multiple melanoma loci and identified a pleiotropic function of HIV-1 restriction gene, MX2, in melanoma promotion

Jiyeon Choi, et al

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Jul 08, 2019
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Received Date: 6th June 19

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified ~20 melanoma susceptibility loci. To identify susceptibility genes and variants simultaneously from multiple GWAS loci, we integrated massively-parallel reporter assays (MPRA) with cell type-specific epigenomic data as well as melanocyte-specific expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) profiling. Starting from 16 melanoma loci, we selected 832 variants overlapping active regions of chromatin in cells of melanocytic lineage and identified 39 candidate functional variants displaying allelic transcriptional activity by MPRA. For four of these loci, we further identified four colocalizing melanocyte cis-eQTL genes (CTSSCASP8MX2, and MAFF) matching the allelic activity of MPRA functional variants. Among these, we further characterized the locus encompassing the HIV-1 restriction gene, MX2, on chromosome band Chr21q22.3 and validated a functional variant, rs398206, among multiple high LD variants. rs398206 mediates allelic transcriptional activity via binding of the transcription factor, YY1. This allelic transcriptional regulation is consistent with a significant cis-eQTL of MX2 in primary human melanocytes, where the melanoma risk-associated A allele of rs398206 is correlated with higher MX2 levels. Melanocyte-specific transgenic expression of human MX2 in a zebrafish model demonstrated accelerated melanoma formation in a BRAFV600Ebackground. Thus, using an efficient scalable approach to streamline GWAS follow-up functional studies, we identified multiple candidate melanoma susceptibility genes and variants, and uncovered a pleiotropic function of MX2 in melanoma susceptibility.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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