Transcriptional dynamics of colorectal cancer risk associated variation at 11q23.1 correlate with tuft cell abundance and marker expression in silico

Bradley T. Harris, Vidya Rajasekaran, James P. Blackmur, Alan O’callaghan, Kevin Donnelly, Maria Timofeeva, Peter G. Vaughan-shaw, Farhat V. N. Din, Malcolm G. Dunlop, Susan M. Farrington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is characterised by heritable risk that is not well understood. Heritable, genetic variation at 11q23.1 is associated with increased colorectal cancer (CRC) risk, demonstrating eQTL effects on 3 cis- and 23 trans-eQTL targets. We sought to determine the relationship between 11q23.1 cis- and trans-eQTL target expression and test for potential cell-specificity. scRNAseq from 32,361 healthy colonic epithelial cells was aggregated and subject to weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA). One module (blue) included 19 trans-eQTL targets and was correlated with POU2AF2 expression only. Following unsupervised clustering of single cells, the expression of 19 trans-eQTL targets was greatest and most variable in cluster number 11, which transcriptionally resembled tuft cells. 14 trans-eQTL targets were found to demarcate this cluster, 11 of which were corroborated in a second dataset. Intra-cluster WGCNA and module preservation analysis then identified twelve 11q23.1 trans-eQTL targets to comprise a network that was specific to cluster 11. Finally, linear modelling and differential abundance testing showed 11q23.1 trans-eQTL target expression was predictive of cluster 11 abundance. Our findings suggest 11q23.1 trans-eQTL targets comprise a POU2AF2-related network that is likely tuft cell-specific and reduced expression of these genes correlates with reduced tuft cell abundance in silico.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Volume12
Issue number1
Early online date10 Aug 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Aug 2022

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