Discovery of novel hepatocyte eQTLs in African Americans

Yizhen Zhong, Tanima De, Cristina Alarcon, C. Sehwan Park, Bianca Lec, Minoli A. Perera*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


African Americans (AAs) are disproportionately affected by metabolic diseases and adverse drug events, with limited publicly available genomic and transcriptomic data to advance the knowledge of the molecular underpinnings or genetic associations to these diseases or drug response phenotypes. To fill this gap, we obtained 60 primary hepatocyte cultures from AA liver donors for genome-wide mapping of expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) using LAMatrix. We identified 277 eGenes and 19,770 eQTLs, of which 67 eGenes and 7,415 eQTLs are not observed in the Genotype-Tissue Expression Project (GTEx) liver eQTL analysis. Of the eGenes found in GTEx only 25 share the same lead eQTL. These AA-specific eQTLs are less correlated to GTEx eQTLs. in effect sizes and have larger Fst values compared to eQTLs found in both cohorts (overlapping eQTLs). We assessed the overlap between GWAS variants and their tagging variants with AA hepatocyte eQTLs and demonstrated that AA hepatocyte eQTLs can decrease the number of potential causal variants at GWAS loci. Additionally, we identified 75,002 exon QTLs of which 48.8% are not eQTLs in AA hepatocytes. Our analysis provides the first comprehensive characterization of AA hepatocyte eQTLs and highlights the unique discoveries that are made possible due to the increased genetic diversity within the African ancestry genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1008662
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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