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Title: Allele-specific NKX2-5 binding underlies multiple genetic associations with human electrocardiographic traits
The cardiac transcription factor (TF) gene NKX2-5 has been associated with electrocardiographic (EKG) traits through genome-wide association studies (GWASs), but the extent to which differential binding of NKX2-5 at common regulatory variants contributes to these traits has not yet been studied. We analyzed transcriptomic and epigenomic data from induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes from seven related individuals, and identified ~2,000 single-nucleotide variants associated with allele-specific effects (ASE-SNVs) on NKX2-5 binding. NKX2-5 ASE-SNVs were enriched for altered TF motifs, for heart-specific expression quantitative trait loci and for EKG GWAS signals. Using fine-mapping combined with epigenomic data from induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cardiomyocytes, we prioritized candidate causal variants for EKG traits, many of which were NKX2-5 ASE-SNVs. Experimentally characterizing two NKX2-5 ASE-SNVs (rs3807989 and rs590041) showed that they modulate the expression of target genes via differential protein binding in cardiac cells, indicating that they are functional variants underlying EKG GWAS signals. Our results show that differential NKX2-5 binding at numerous regulatory variants across the genome contributes to EKG phenotypes.
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Nature Genetics
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Genetically encoded fluorescent voltage indicators, such as ArcLight, have been used to report action potentials (APs) in human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (hiPSC-CMs). However, the ArcLight expression, in all cases, relied on a high number of lentiviral vector-mediated random genome integrations (8-12 copy/cell), raising concerns such as gene disruption and alteration of global and local gene expression, as well as loss or silencing of reporter genes after differentiation. Here, we report the use of clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/Cas9 nuclease technique to develop a hiPSC line stably expressing ArcLight from the AAVS1 safe harbor locus. The hiPSC line retained proliferative ability with a growth rate similar to its parental strain. Optical recording with conventional epifluorescence microscopy allowed the detection of APs as early as 21 days postdifferentiation, and could be repeatedly monitored for at least 5 months. Moreover, quantification and analysis of the APs of ArcLight-CMs identified two distinctive subtypes: a group with high frequency of spontaneous APs of small amplitudes that were pacemaker-like CMs and a group with low frequency of automaticity and large amplitudes that resembled the working CMs. Compared with FluoVolt voltage-sensitive dye, although dimmer, the ArcLight reporter exhibited better optical performance in termsmore »of phototoxicity and photostability with comparable sensitivities and signal-to-noise ratios. The hiPSC line with targeted ArcLight engineering design represents a useful tool for studying cardiac development or hiPSC-derived cardiac disease models and drug testing.

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