Characterizing enhancer-driven transcriptional networks in schizophrenia
AdvisorAment, Seth A.
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AbstractGenetic studies of schizophrenia have demonstrated that more than 90% of genetic risk is confined to non-coding portions of the genome. Advances in chromatin state prediction and chromatin accessibility assays have enabled us to better characterize the genomic features making up these regions and annotate genetic risk to these elements. The focus of this dissertation is to understand the role that tissue- and cell type- specific regulatory elements and the transcription factors that bind them play in risk for schizophrenia. I hypothesized that enhancer-based transcription factor-target networks that direct neuronal development are disrupted in schizophrenia. To test this hypothesis, I used high-quality chromatin state predictions in both the developing and the adult brain to develop a framework for testing enhancer properties for association with genetic risk. Any enhancer-level annotation can be used in this type of test, including transcription factor binding counts and chromosomal contact information. I first described and validated an atlas of transcription factor binding sites across multiple human tissue, including the brain. I then used this atlas to show that neurodevelopmental transcription factors and target genes are most associated with risk for developing schizophrenia.
University of Maryland, Baltimore
Enhancer Elements, Genetic