DeepSAGE Reveals Genetic Variants Associated with Alternative Polyadenylation and Expression of Coding and Non-coding Transcripts

Daria V. Zhernakova*, Eleonora de Klerk, Harm-Jan Westra, Anastasios Mastrokolias, Shoaib Amini, Yavuz Ariyurek, Rick Jansen, Brenda W. Penninx, Jouke J. Hottenga, Gonneke Willemsen, Eco J. de Geus, Dorret I. Boomsma, Jan H. Veldink, Leonard H. van den Berg, Cisca Wijmenga, Johan T. den Dunnen, Gert-Jan B. van Ommen, Peter A. C. 't Hoen, Lude Franke

*Corresponding author for this work

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Many disease-associated variants affect gene expression levels (expression quantitative trait loci, eQTLs) and expression profiling using next generation sequencing (NGS) technology is a powerful way to detect these eQTLs. We analyzed 94 total blood samples from healthy volunteers with DeepSAGE to gain specific insight into how genetic variants affect the expression of genes and lengths of 3'-untranslated regions (3'-UTRs). We detected previously unknown cis-eQTL effects for GWAS hits in disease-and physiology-associated traits. Apart from cis-eQTLs that are typically easily identifiable using microarrays or RNA-sequencing, DeepSAGE also revealed many cis-eQTLs for antisense and other non-coding transcripts, often in genomic regions containing retrotransposon-derived elements. We also identified and confirmed SNPs that affect the usage of alternative polyadenylation sites, thereby potentially influencing the stability of messenger RNAs (mRNA). We then combined the power of RNA-sequencing with DeepSAGE by performing a meta-analysis of three datasets, leading to the identification of many more cis-eQTLs. Our results indicate that DeepSAGE data is useful for eQTL mapping of known and unknown transcripts, and for identifying SNPs that affect alternative polyadenylation. Because of the inherent differences between DeepSAGE and RNA-sequencing, our complementary, integrative approach leads to greater insight into the molecular consequences of many disease-associated variants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003594
Number of pages15
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 20-Jun-2013


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