Seumois G, Chavez L, Gerasimova A, Lienhard M, Omran N, Kalinke L, Vedanayagam M, Ganesan AP, Chawla A, Djukanović R, Ansel KM, Peters B, Rao A, Vijayanand P
A characteristic feature of asthma is the aberrant accumulation, differentiation or function of memory CD4(+) T cells that produce type 2 cytokines (TH2 cells). By mapping genome-wide histone modification profiles for subsets of T cells isolated from peripheral blood of healthy and asthmatic individuals, we identified enhancers with known and potential roles in the normal differentiation of human TH1 cells and TH2 cells. We discovered disease-specific enhancers in T cells that differ between healthy and asthmatic individuals. Enhancers that gained the histone H3 Lys4 dimethyl (H3K4me2) mark during TH2 cell development showed the highest enrichment for asthma-associated single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), which supported a pathogenic role for TH2 cells in asthma. In silico analysis of cell-specific enhancers revealed transcription factors, microRNAs and genes potentially linked to human TH2 cell differentiation. Our results establish the feasibility and utility of enhancer profiling in well-defined populations of specialized cell types involved in disease pathogenesis.