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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Enhancer Variants Synergistically Drive Dysfunction of a Gene Regulatory Network In Hirschsprung Disease.

  • Author(s): Chatterjee, Sumantra
  • Kapoor, Ashish
  • Akiyama, Jennifer A
  • Auer, Dallas R
  • Lee, Dongwon
  • Gabriel, Stacey
  • Berrios, Courtney
  • Pennacchio, Len A
  • Chakravarti, Aravinda
  • et al.

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Common sequence variants in cis-regulatory elements (CREs) are suspected etiological causes of complex disorders. We previously identified an intronic enhancer variant in the RET gene disrupting SOX10 binding and increasing Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) risk 4-fold. We now show that two other functionally independent CRE variants, one binding Gata2 and the other binding Rarb, also reduce Ret expression and increase risk 2- and 1.7-fold. By studying human and mouse fetal gut tissues and cell lines, we demonstrate that reduced RET expression propagates throughout its gene regulatory network, exerting effects on both its positive and negative feedback components. We also provide evidence that the presence of a combination of CRE variants synergistically reduces RET expression and its effects throughout the GRN. These studies show how the effects of functionally independent non-coding variants in a coordinated gene regulatory network amplify their individually small effects, providing a model for complex disorders.

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