Genome-scale transcriptional regulatory network models of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders

Jocelynn R. Pearl, Dani E. Bergey, Cory C. Funk, Bijoya Basu, Rediet Oshone, Paul Shannon, Leroy Hood, Nathan D. Price, Carlo Colantuoni, Seth A. Ament

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genetic and genomic studies suggest an important role for transcriptional regulatory changes in brain diseases, but roles for specific transcription factors (TFs) remain poorly understood. We integrated human brain-specific DNase I footprinting and TF-gene co-expression to reconstruct a transcriptional regulatory network (TRN) model for the human brain, predicting the brain-specific binding sites and target genes for 741 TFs. We used this model to predict core TFs involved in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Our results suggest that disease-related transcriptomic and genetic changes converge on small sets of disease-specific regulators, with distinct networks underlying neurodegenerative vs. psychiatric diseases. Core TFs were frequently implicated in a disease through multiple mechanisms, including differential expression of their target genes, disruption of their binding sites by disease-associated SNPs, and associations of the genetic loci encoding these TFs with disease risk. We validated our model’s predictions through systematic comparison to publicly available ChIP-seq and TF perturbation studies and through experimental studies in primary human neural stem cells. Combined genetic and transcriptional evidence supports roles for neuronal and microglia-enriched, MEF2C-regulated networks in Alzheimer’s disease; an oligodendrocyte-enriched, SREBF1-regulated network in schizophrenia; and a neural stem cell and astrocyte-enriched, POU3F2-regulated network in bipolar disorder. We provide our models of brain-specific TF binding sites and target genes as a resource for network analysis of brain diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Sep 19 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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