Integrative Multiomics to Dissect the Lung Transcriptional Landscape of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

Jason Hong*, Brenda Wong, Christopher J. Rhodes, Zeyneb Kurt, Tae-Hwi Schwantes-An, Elizabeth A. Mickler, Stefan Gräf, Mélanie Eyries, Katie A. Lutz, Michael W. Pauciulo, Richard C. Trembath, David Montani, Nicholas W. Morrell, Martin R. Wilkins, William C. Nichols, David-Alexandre Trégouët, Micheala A. Aldred, Ankit A. Desai, Rubin M. Tuder, Mark W. GeraciMansoureh Eghbali, Robert S. Stearman, Xia Yang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperPreprint

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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) remains an incurable and often fatal disease despite currently available therapies. Multiomics systems biology analysis can shed new light on PAH pathobiology and inform translational research efforts. Using RNA sequencing on the largest PAH lung biobank to date (96 disease and 52 control), we aim to identify gene co-expression network modules associated with PAH and potential therapeutic targets. Co-expression network analysis was performed to identify modules of co-expressed genes which were then assessed for and prioritized by importance in PAH, regulatory role, and therapeutic potential via integration with clinicopathologic data, human genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of PAH, lung Bayesian regulatory networks, single-cell RNA-sequencing data, and pharmacotranscriptomic profiles. We identified a co-expression module of 266 genes, called the pink module, which may be a response to the underlying disease process to counteract disease progression in PAH. This module was associated not only with PAH severity such as increased PVR and intimal thickness, but also with compensated PAH such as lower number of hospitalizations, WHO functional class and NT-proBNP. GWAS integration demonstrated the pink module is enriched for PAH-associated genetic variation in multiple cohorts. Regulatory network analysis revealed that BMPR2 regulates the main target of FDA-approved riociguat, GUCY1A2, in the pink module. Analysis of pathway enrichment and pink hub genes (i.e. ANTXR1 and SFRP4) suggests the pink module inhibits Wnt signaling and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Cell type deconvolution showed the pink module correlates with higher vascular cell fractions (i.e. myofibroblasts). A pharmacotranscriptomic screen discovered ubiquitin-specific peptidases (USPs) as potential therapeutic targets to mimic the pink module signature. Our multiomics integrative study uncovered a novel gene subnetwork associated with clinicopathologic severity, genetic risk, specific vascular cell types, and new therapeutic targets in PAH. Future studies are warranted to investigate the role and therapeutic potential of the pink module and targeting USPs in PAH.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCold Spring Harbor, US
Number of pages63
Publication statusSubmitted - 16 Jan 2023


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