Comparison of quantitative trait loci methods: Total expression and allelic imbalance method in brain RNA-seq

The BrainSeq Consortium¶

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Background Of the 108 Schizophrenia (SZ) risk-loci discovered through genome-wide association studies (GWAS), 96 are not altering the sequence of any protein. Evidence linking non-coding risk-SNPs and genes may be established using expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL). However, other approaches such allelic expression quantitative trait loci (aeQTL) also may be of use. Methods We applied both the eQTL and aeQTL analysis to a biobank of deeply sequenced RNA from 680 dorso-lateral pre-frontal cortex (DLPFC) samples. For each of 340 genes proximal to the SZ risk-SNPs, we asked how much SNP-genotype affected total expression (eQTL), as well as how much the expression ratio between the two alleles differed from 1:1 as a consequence of the risk-SNP genotype (aeQTL). Results We analyzed overlap with comparable eQTL-findings: 16 of the 30 risk-SNPs known to have gene-level eQTL also had gene-level aeQTL effects. 6 of 21 risk-SNPs with known splice-eQTL had exon-aeQTL effects. 12 novel potential risk genes were identified with the aeQTL approach, while 55 tested SNP-pairs were found as eQTL but not aeQTL. Of the tested 108 loci we could find at least one gene to be associated with 21 of the risk-SNPs using gene-level aeQTL, and with an additional 18 risk-SNPs using exon-level aeQTL. Conclusion Our results suggest that the aeQTL strategy complements the eQTL approach to susceptibility gene identification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0217765
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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