Epigenomic analysis reveals a dynamic and context-specific macrophage enhancer landscape associated with innate immune activation and tolerance
Zhang P., Amarasinghe HE., Whalley JP., Tay C., Fang H., Migliorini G., Brown AC., Allcock A., Scozzafava G., Rath P., Davies B., Knight JC.
Abstract Background Chromatin states and enhancers associate gene expression, cell identity and disease. Here, we systematically delineate the acute innate immune response to endotoxin in terms of human macrophage enhancer activity and contrast with endotoxin tolerance, profiling the coding and non-coding transcriptome, chromatin accessibility and epigenetic modifications. Results We describe the spectrum of enhancers under acute and tolerance conditions and the regulatory networks between these enhancers and biological processes including gene expression, splicing regulation, transcription factor binding and enhancer RNA signatures. We demonstrate that the vast majority of differentially regulated enhancers on acute stimulation are subject to tolerance and that expression quantitative trait loci, disease-risk variants and eRNAs are enriched in these regulatory regions and related to context-specific gene expression. We find enrichment for context-specific eQTL involving endotoxin response and specific infections and delineate specific differential regions informative for GWAS variants in inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, together with a context-specific enhancer involving a bacterial infection eQTL for KLF4. We show enrichment in differential enhancers for tolerance involving transcription factors NFκB-p65, STATs and IRFs and prioritize putative causal genes directly linking genetic variants and disease risk enhancers. We further delineate similarities and differences in epigenetic landscape between stem cell-derived macrophages and primary cells and characterize the context-specific enhancer activities for key innate immune response genes KLF4, SLAMF1 and IL2RA. Conclusions Our study demonstrates the importance of context-specific macrophage enhancers in gene regulation and utility for interpreting disease associations, providing a roadmap to link genetic variants with molecular and cellular functions.