Characterising cis-regulatory variation in the transcriptome of histologically normal and tumour-derived pancreatic tissues.
Zhang M., Lykke-Andersen S., Zhu B., Xiao W., Hoskins JW., Zhang X., Rost LM., Collins I., Bunt MVD., Jia J., Parikh H., Zhang T., Song L., Jermusyk A., Chung CC., Zhu B., Zhou W., Matters GL., Kurtz RC., Yeager M., Jensen TH., Brown KM., Ongen H., Bamlet WR., Murray BA., McCarthy MI., Chanock SJ., Chatterjee N., Wolpin BM., Smith JP., Olson SH., Petersen GM., Shi J., Amundadottir L.
OBJECTIVE: To elucidate the genetic architecture of gene expression in pancreatic tissues. DESIGN: We performed expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) analysis in histologically normal pancreatic tissue samples (n=95) using RNA sequencing and the corresponding 1000 genomes imputed germline genotypes. Data from pancreatic tumour-derived tissue samples (n=115) from The Cancer Genome Atlas were included for comparison. RESULTS: We identified 38 615 cis-eQTLs (in 484 genes) in histologically normal tissues and 39 713 cis-eQTL (in 237 genes) in tumour-derived tissues (false discovery rate <0.1), with the strongest effects seen near transcriptional start sites. Approximately 23% and 42% of genes with significant cis-eQTLs appeared to be specific for tumour-derived and normal-derived tissues, respectively. Significant enrichment of cis-eQTL variants was noted in non-coding regulatory regions, in particular for pancreatic tissues (1.53-fold to 3.12-fold, p≤0.0001), indicating tissue-specific functional relevance. A common pancreatic cancer risk locus on 9q34.2 (rs687289) was associated with ABO expression in histologically normal (p=5.8×10-8) and tumour-derived (p=8.3×10-5) tissues. The high linkage disequilibrium between this variant and the O blood group generating deletion variant in ABO (exon 6) suggested that nonsense-mediated decay (NMD) of the 'O' mRNA might explain this finding. However, knockdown of crucial NMD regulators did not influence decay of the ABO 'O' mRNA, indicating that a gene regulatory element influenced by pancreatic cancer risk alleles may underlie the eQTL. CONCLUSIONS: We have identified cis-eQTLs representing potential functional regulatory variants in the pancreas and generated a rich data set for further studies on gene expression and its regulation in pancreatic tissues.