Smoked-induced epigenomics and open chromatin changes
Epigenetic changes, especially histone modification, provide a flag for active chromatin regions where causal variants tend to locate. We have developed a culture system where airway epithelial cells are grown at air-liquid-interface, closest to native status in vivo. We then apply active chromatin markers such as H3K27Ac and H3K4Me1 in ChIP-Seq to identify potential enhancer regions that may contain functional variants within GWAS loci in airway epithelial cells, one of the critical cell types relevant to lung disease.
Genetic variants play important roles in response to environmental changes. It is challenging to study gene-by-environment interactions in population studies since it requires enormous sample sizes to gain enough statistical power. To mimic the effect of environmental stimulus in cell culture, we apply a similar model to airway epithelial cells to compare the differential gene expression imposed by environmental stimulus in vitro chronically after repeated daily smoking.