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Regulatory sites for known and novel splicing in human basal ganglia are enriched for disease-relevant information

Abstract

Genome-wide association studies have generated an increasing number of common genetic variants that affect neurological and psychiatric disease risk. Given that many causal variants are likely to operate by regulating gene expression, an improved understanding of the genetic control of gene expression in human brain is vital. However, the difficulties of sampling human brain, and its complexity, has meant that brain-related expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and allele specific expression (ASE) signals have been more limited in their explanatory power than might otherwise be expected. To address this, we use paired genomic and transcriptomic data from putamen and substantia nigra dissected from 117 brains, combined with a comprehensive set of analyses, to interrogate regulation at different stages of RNA processing and uncover novel transcripts. We identify disease-relevant regulatory loci and reveal the types of analyses and regulatory positions yielding the most disease-specific information. We find that splicing eQTLs are enriched for neuronspecific regulatory information; that ASE analyses provide highly cell-specific regulatory information; and that incomplete annotation of the brain transcriptome limits the interpretation of risk loci for neuropsychiatric disease. We release this rich resource of regulatory data through a searchable webserver, http://braineacv2.inf.um.es/.

Publication
bioRxiv 591156