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Front Immunol. 2019 Mar 19;10:488. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.00488. eCollection 2019.

The Association Between Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis Risk: 1,25(OH)2D3 Induces Super-Enhancers Bound by VDR.

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Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia.
Department of Immunology, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.
Key Laboratory of Anti-inflammatory and Immunopharmacology, Ministry of Education, Collaborative Innovation Center of Anti-Inflammatory and Immune Medicine, Institute of Clinical Pharmacology, Anhui Medical University, Hefei, China.


A super-enhancer (SE) is a cluster of enhancers with a relatively high density of particular chromatin features. SEs typically regulate key genes that can determine cell identity and differentiation. Identifying SEs and their effects may be critical in predicting key regulatory genes, such as master transcription factor genes or oncogenes. Signal inducible SEs are dense stretches of signal terminal transcription factor (TF) binding regions, and may modulate the interaction between environmental factors (e.g., Vitamin D) and genetic factors (i.e., risk variants) in complex diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). As a complex autoimmune disease, the etiology and progression of MS, including the interaction between Vitamin D and MS risk variants, is still unclear and can be explored from the aspect of signal SEs. Vitamin D [with its active form: 1,25(OH)2D3], is an environmental risk factor for MS. It binds the Vitamin D receptor (VDR) and regulates gene expression. This study explores the association between VDR super-enhancers (VSEs) and MS risk variants. Firstly, we reanalyse public ChIP-seq and RNA-seq data to classify VSEs into three categories according to their combinations of persistent and secondary VDR binding. Secondly, we indicate the genes with VSE regions that are near MS risk variants. Furthermore, we find that MS risk variants are enriched in VSE regions, and we indicate some genes with a VSE overlapping MS risk variant for further exploration. We also find two clusters of genes from the set of genes showing correlation of expression patterns with the MS risk gene ZMIZ1 that appear to be regulated by VSEs in THP-1 cells. It is the first time that VSEs have been analyzed, and we directly connect the genetic risk factors for MS risk with Vitamin D based on VSEs.


inducible super-enhancer; multiple sclerosis; risk allele; vitamin D; vitamin D receptor

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