BMC Medical Genetics
Open Peer Review reports
A functional variant alters binding of activating protein 1 regulating expression of FGF7 gene associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
BMC Medical Genetics201920:33
© The Author(s). 2019
- Published: 18 February 2019
Genome-wide association studies (GWASs) of a large cohort of subjects with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have successfully identified multiple risk genes, including fibroblast growth factor 7 (FGF7). However, the underlying molecular mechanism influencing function of FGF7 and risk of COPD remains further study.
In this study, we replicated the genetic association of variants near the FGF7 gene in 258 Chinese Han patients with COPD and 311 healthy controls. Additionally, we functionally evaluated a candidate causal variant upstream of the FGF7 gene.
The most significant association was observed at rs12905203 (P = 5.9 × 10− 3, odd ratio, OR = 1.516) that explains associations of previously reported variants at the FGF7 locus. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) and chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (ChIP-qPCR) assays showed that the risk allele of the variant was bound to activator protein 1 transcription factors (c-Fos and c-Jun) with a significantly reduced affinity and associated with decreased mRNA expression of FGF7 in fibroblast cells at both resting and PMA/Ionomycin-stimulated conditions. Overexpression of c-Fos and c-Jun proteins or stimulation with PMA/Ionomycin significantly increases mRNA expression of FGF7 in fibroblast cells. Bioinformatic analysis showed that the variant overlaps with multiple genetic regulatory marks, suggesting the regulatory DNA element might function as an enhancer for the FGF7 gene. Luciferase enhancer activity assays demonstrated that the DNA sequences carrying the variant produce enhancer activity while the risk allele of the variant reduces its activity.
In this study, we demonstrated a consistent association of the FGF7 gene with COPD and mechanistically characterized a candidate functional variant upstream of the FGF7 gene. These data highlighted the important role of the risk variant and the FGF7 gene in influencing risk for COPD.