Gene networks and pathways for plasma lipid traits via multitissue multiomics systems analysis

Montgomery Blencowe, In Sook Ahn, Zara Saleem, Helen Luk, Ingrid Cely, Ville Petteri Mäkinen, Yuqi Zhao, Xia Yang

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have implicated ~380 genetic loci for plasma lipid regulation. However, these loci only explain 17-27% of the trait variance, and a comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanisms has not been achieved. In this study, we utilized an integrative genomics approach leveraging diverse genomic data from human populations to investigate whether genetic variants associated with various plasma lipid traits, namely, total cholesterol, high and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL and LDL), and triglycerides, from GWASs were concentrated on specific parts of tissue-specific gene regulatory networks. In addition to the expected lipid metabolism pathways, gene subnetworks involved in "interferon signaling,""autoimmune/immune activation,""visual transduction,"and "protein catabolism"were significantly associated with all lipid traits. In addition, we detected trait-specific subnetworks, including cadherin-associated subnetworks for LDL; glutathione metabolism for HDL; valine, leucine, and isoleucine biosynthesis for total cholesterol; and insulin signaling and complement pathways for triglyceride. Finally, by using gene-gene relations revealed by tissue-specific gene regulatory networks, we detected both known (e.g., APOH, APOA4, and ABCA1) and novel (e.g., F2 in adipose tissue) key regulator genes in these lipid-associated subnetworks. Knockdown of the F2 gene (coagulation factor II, thrombin) in 3T3-L1 and C3H10T1/2 adipocytes altered gene expression of Abcb11, Apoa5, Apof, Fabp1, Lipc, and Cd36; reduced intracellular adipocyte lipid content; and increased extracellular lipid content, supporting a link between adipose thrombin and lipid regulation. Our results shed light on the complex mechanisms underlying lipid metabolism and highlight potential novel targets for lipid regulation and lipid-associated diseases.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number100019
    JournalJournal of Lipid Research
    Publication statusPublished or Issued - 2021


    • Coagulation factor II
    • GWAS
    • Integrative genomics
    • Lipid metabolism
    • Pathway and network analysis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry
    • Endocrinology
    • Cell Biology

    Cite this