Single nucleotide polymorphisms at a distance from aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) binding sites influence AhR ligand-dependent gene expression

Drew R. Neavin, Jeong Heon Lee, Duan Liu, Zhenqing Ye, Hu Li, Liewei Wang, Tamas Ordog, Richard M. Weinshilboum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Greater than 90% of significant genome-wide association study (GWAS) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are in noncoding regions of the genome, but only 25.6% are known expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). Therefore, the function of many significant GWAS SNPs remains unclear. We have identified a novel type of eQTL for which SNPs distant from ligand-activated transcription factor (TF) binding sites can alter target gene expression in a SNP genotype-by-ligand-dependent fashion that we refer to as pharmacogenomic eQTLs (PGx-eQTLs)-loci that may have important pharmacotherapeutic implications. In the present study, we integrated chromatin immunoprecipitation-seq with RNA-seq and SNP genotype data for a panel of lymphoblastoid cell lines to identify 10 novel cis PGx-eQTLs dependent on the ligand-activated TF aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR)-a critical environmental sensor for xenobiotic (drug) and immune response. Those 10 cis PGx-eQTLs were eQTLs only after AHR ligand treatment, even though the SNPs did not create/destroy an AHR response element-the DNA sequence motif recognized and bound by AHR. Additional functional studies in multiple cell lines demonstrated that some cis PGx-eQTLs are functional in multiple cell types, whereas others displayed SNP-by-ligand-dependent effects in just one cell type. Furthermore, four of those cis PGx-eQTLs had previously been associated with clinical phenotypes, indicating that those loci might have the potential to inform clinical decisions. Therefore, SNPs across the genome that are distant from TF binding sites for ligand-activated TFs might function as PGx-eQTLs and, as a result, might have important clinical implications for interindividual variation in drug response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)983-994
Number of pages12
JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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