Developing functional insight into the causal molecular drivers of immunological disease is a critical challenge in genomic medicine. Here, we systematically apply Mendelian randomization (MR), genetic colocalization, immune-cell-type enrichment, and phenome-wide association methods to investigate the effects of genetically predicted gene expression on ten immune-associated diseases and four cancer outcomes. Using whole blood-derived estimates for regulatory variants from the eQTLGen consortium (n = 31,684), we constructed genetic risk scores for 10,104 genes. Applying the inverse-variance-weighted MR method transcriptome wide while accounting for linkage disequilibrium structure identified 664 unique genes with evidence of a genetically predicted effect on at least one disease outcome (p < 4.81 × 10). We next undertook genetic colocalization to investigate cell-type-specific effects at these loci by using gene expression data derived from 18 types of immune cells. This highlighted many cell-type-dependent effects, such as PRKCQ expression and asthma risk (posterior probability = 0.998), which was T cell specific. Phenome-wide analyses on 311 complex traits and endpoints allowed us to explore shared genetic architecture and prioritize key drivers of disease risk, such as CASP10, which provided evidence of an effect on seven cancer-related outcomes. Our atlas of results can be used to characterize known and novel loci in immune-associated disease and cancer susceptibility, both in terms of elucidating cell-type-dependent effects as well as dissecting shared disease pathways and pervasive pleiotropy. As an exemplar, we have highlighted several key findings in this study, although similar evaluations can be conducted via our interactive web platform.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Inc.