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Spatial chromatin architecture alteration by structural variations in human genomes at the population scale

Sadowski, Michal, Kraft, Agnieszka, Szalaj, Przemyslaw, Wlasnowolski, Michal, Tang, Zhonghui, Ruan, Yijun, Plewczynski, Dariusz
Genome biology 2019 v.20 no.1 pp. 148
DNA-directed RNA polymerase, algorithms, chromatin, genetic variation, genome, genome-wide association study, genomics, human population, humans, models, single nucleotide polymorphism, topology, transcription (genetics)
BACKGROUND: The number of reported examples of chromatin architecture alterations involved in the regulation of gene transcription and in disease is increasing. However, no genome-wide testing has been performed to assess the abundance of these events and their importance relative to other factors affecting genome regulation. This is particularly interesting given that a vast majority of genetic variations identified in association studies are located outside coding sequences. This study attempts to address this lack by analyzing the impact on chromatin spatial organization of genetic variants identified in individuals from 26 human populations and in genome-wide association studies. RESULTS: We assess the tendency of structural variants to accumulate in spatially interacting genomic segments and design an algorithm to model chromatin conformational changes caused by structural variations. We show that differential gene transcription is closely linked to the variation in chromatin interaction networks mediated by RNA polymerase II. We also demonstrate that CTCF-mediated interactions are well conserved across populations, but enriched with disease-associated SNPs. Moreover, we find boundaries of topological domains as relatively frequent targets of duplications, which suggest that these duplications can be an important evolutionary mechanism of genome spatial organization. CONCLUSIONS: This study assesses the critical impact of genetic variants on the higher-order organization of chromatin folding and provides insight into the mechanisms regulating gene transcription at the population scale, of which local arrangement of chromatin loops seems to be the most significant. It provides the first insight into the variability of the human 3D genome at the population scale.