[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids (GCs) are key mediators of stress response and are widely used as pharmacological agents to treat immune diseases, such as asthma and inflammatory bowel disease, and certain types of cancer. GCs act mainly by activating the GC receptor (GR), which interacts with other transcription factors to regulate gene expression. Here, we combined different functional genomics approaches to gain molecular insights into the mechanisms of action of GC. By profiling the transcriptional response to GC over time in 4 Yoruba (YRI) and 4 Tuscans (TSI) lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs), we suggest that the transcriptional response to GC is variable not only in time, but also in direction (positive or negative) depending on the presence of specific interacting transcription factors. Accordingly, when we performed ChIP-seq for GR and NF-κB in two YRI LCLs treated with GC or with vehicle control, we observed that features of GR binding sites differ for up- and down-regulated genes. Finally, we show that eQTLs that affect expression patterns only in the presence of GC are 1.9-fold more likely to occur in GR binding sites, compared to eQTLs that affect expression only in its absence. Our results indicate that genetic variation at GR and interacting transcription factors binding sites influences variability in gene expression, and attest to the power of combining different functional genomic approaches.
PLoS ONE 04/2013; 8(4):e61654. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glucocorticoids (GCs) mediate physiological responses to environmental stress and are commonly used as pharmaceuticals. GCs act primarily through the GC receptor (GR, a transcription factor). Despite their clear biomedical importance, little is known about the genetic architecture of variation in GC response. Here we provide an initial assessment of variability in the cellular response to GC treatment by profiling gene expression and protein secretion in 114 EBV-transformed B lymphocytes of African and European ancestry. We found that genetic variation affects the response of nearby genes and exhibits distinctive patterns of genotype-treatment interactions, with genotypic effects evident in either only GC-treated or only control-treated conditions. Using a novel statistical framework, we identified interactions that influence the expression of 26 genes known to play central roles in GC-related pathways (e.g. NQO1, AIRE, and SGK1) and that influence the secretion of IL6.