Placental multi-omics integration identifies candidate functional genes for birthweight

Fasil Tekola-Ayele, Xuehuo Zeng, Suvo Chatterjee, Marion Ouidir, Corina Lesseur, Ke Hao, Jia Chen, Markos Tesfaye, Carmen J. Marsit, Tsegaselassie Workalemahu, Ronald Wapner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Abnormal birthweight is associated with increased risk for cardiometabolic diseases in later life. Although the placenta is critical to fetal development and later life health, it has not been integrated into largescale functional genomics initiatives, and mechanisms of birthweight-associated variants identified by genome wide association studies (GWAS) are unclear. The goal of this study is to provide functional mechanistic insight into the causal pathway from a genetic variant to birthweight by integrating placental methylation and gene expression with established GWAS loci for birthweight. We identify placental DNA methylation and gene expression targets for several birthweight GWAS loci. The target genes are broadly enriched in cardiometabolic, immune response, and hormonal pathways. We find that methylation causally influences WNT3A, CTDNEP1, and RANBP2 expression in placenta. Multi-trait colocalization identifies PLEKHA1, FES, CTDNEP1, and PRMT7 as likely functional effector genes. These findings reveal candidate functional pathways that underpin the genetic regulation of birthweight via placental epigenetic and transcriptomic mechanisms. Clinical trial registration;, NCT00912132.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2384
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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