Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an organ-specific autoimmune disease, whereby immune cellmediated killing leads to loss of the insulin-producing β cells in the pancreas. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified over 200 genetic variants associated with risk for T1D. The majority of the GWAS risk variants reside in the non-coding regions of the genome, suggesting that gene regulatory changes substantially contribute to T1D. However, identification of causal regulatory variants associated with T1D risk and their affected genes is challenging due to incomplete knowledge of non-coding regulatory elements and the cellular states and processes in which they function. Here, we performed a comprehensive integrated post-GWAS analysis of T1D to identify functional regulatory variants in enhancers and their cognate target genes. Starting with 1,817 candidate T1D SNPs defined from the GWAS catalog and LDlink databases, we conducted functional annotation analysis using genomic data from various public databases. These include 1) Roadmap Epigenomics, ENCODE, and RegulomeDB for epigenome data; 2) GTEx for tissue-specific gene expression and expression quantitative trait loci data; and 3) lncRNASNP2 for long non-coding RNA data. Our results indicated a prevalent enhancer-based immune dysregulation in T1D pathogenesis. We identified 26 high-probability causal enhancer SNPs associated with T1D, and 64 predicted target genes. The majority of the target genes play major roles in antigen presentation and immune response and are regulated through complex transcriptional regulatory circuits, including those in HLA (6p21) and non-HLA (16p11.2) loci. These candidate causal enhancer SNPs are supported by strong evidence and warrant functional follow- up studies.
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