Genetic Control of Expression and Splicing in Developing Human Brain Informs Disease Mechanisms | Bogdan Pasaniuc

Walker RL, Ramaswami G, Hartl C, Mancuso N, Gandal MJ, de la Torre-Ubieta L, Pasaniuc B, Stein JL, Geschwind DH.

Thursday, October 17, 2019
Published in Cell


Tissue-specific regulatory regions harbor substantial genetic risk for disease. Because brain development is a critical epoch for neuropsychiatric disease susceptibility, we characterized the genetic control of the transcriptome in 201 mid-gestational human brains, identifying 7,962 expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) and 4,635 spliceQTL (sQTL), including several thousand prenatal-specific regulatory regions. We show that significant genetic liability for neuropsychiatric disease lies within prenatal eQTL and sQTL. Integration of eQTL and sQTL with genome-wide association studies (GWAS) via transcriptome-wide association identified dozens of novel candidate risk genes, highlighting shared and stage-specific mechanisms in schizophrenia (SCZ). Gene network analysis revealed that SCZ and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affect distinct developmental gene co-expression modules. Yet, in each disorder, common and rare genetic variation converges within modules, which in ASD implicates superficial cortical neurons. More broadly, these data, available as a web browser and our analyses, demonstrate the genetic mechanisms by which developmental events have a widespread influence on adult anatomical and behavioral phenotypes.