African-specific alleles modify risk for asthma at the 17q12-q21 locus in African Americans
Asthma; Fine mapping; Health disparities; Integrated omics; Whole-genome sequencing
BACKGROUND: Asthma is the most common chronic disease in children, occurring at higher frequencies and with more severe disease in children with African ancestry. METHODS: We tested for association with haplotypes at the most replicated and significant childhood-onset asthma locus at 17q12-q21 and asthma in European American and African American children. Following this, we used whole-genome sequencing data from 1060 African American and 100 European American individuals to identify novel variants on a high-risk African American-specific haplotype. We characterized these variants in silico using gene expression and ATAC-seq data from airway epithelial cells, functional annotations from ENCODE, and promoter capture (pc)Hi-C maps in airway epithelial cells. Candidate causal variants were then assessed for correlation with asthma-associated phenotypes in African American children and adults. RESULTS: Our studies revealed nine novel African-specific common variants, enriched on a high-risk asthma haplotype, which regulated the expression of GSDMA in airway epithelial cells and were associated with features of severe asthma. Using ENCODE annotations, ATAC-seq, and pcHi-C, we narrowed the associations to two candidate causal variants that are associated with features of T2 low severe asthma. CONCLUSIONS: Previously unknown genetic variation at the 17q12-21 childhood-onset asthma locus contributes to asthma severity in individuals with African ancestries. We suggest that many other population-specific variants that have not been discovered in GWAS contribute to the genetic risk for asthma and other common diseases.
Washington, Charles; Dapas, Matthew; Biddanda, Arjun; Magnaye, Kevin M.; Aneas, Ivy; Helling, Britney A.; Szczesny, Brooke; Boorgula, Meher Preethi; Taub, Margaret A.; Kenny, Eimear; Mathias, Rasika A.; and Barnes, Kathleen C., "African-specific alleles modify risk for asthma at the 17q12-q21 locus in African Americans" (2022). GW Authored Works. Paper 1583.