Doctor of Philosophy, Universitat Pompeu Fabra (2017)
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The increasing global prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and the resulting COVID-19 disease pandemic pose significant concerns for clinical management of solid organ transplant recipients (SOTR). Wearable devices that can measure physiologic changes in biometrics including heart rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, respiratory, activity (such as steps taken per day) and sleep patterns and blood oxygen saturation, show utility for the early detection of infection before clinical presentation of symptoms. Recent algorithms developed using preliminary wearable datasets show that SARS-CoV-2 is detectable before clinical symptoms in >80% of adults. Early detection of SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and other pathogens in SOTR, and their household members, could facilitate early interventions such as self-isolation and early clinical management of relevant infection(s). Ongoing studies testing the utility of wearable devices such as smartwatches for early detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other infections in the general population are reviewed here, along with the practical challenges to implementing these processes at scale in pediatric and adult SOTR, and their household members. The resources and logistics, including transplant specific analyses pipelines to account for confounders such as polypharmacy and comorbidities, required in studies of pediatric and adult SOTR for the robust early detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other infections are also reviewed.
View details for DOI 10.1111/tri.13860
View details for PubMedID 33735480
Consumer wearable devices that continuously measure vital signs have been used to monitor the onset of infectious disease. Here, we show that data from consumer smartwatches can be used for the pre-symptomatic detection of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We analysed physiological and activity data from 32 individuals infected with COVID-19, identified from a cohort of nearly 5,300 participants, and found that 26 of them (81%) had alterations in their heart rate, number of daily steps or time asleep. Of the 25 cases of COVID-19 with detected physiological alterations for which we had symptom information, 22 were detected before (or at) symptom onset, with four cases detected at least nine days earlier. Using retrospective smartwatch data, we show that 63% of the COVID-19 cases could have been detected before symptom onset in real time via a two-tiered warning system based on the occurrence of extreme elevations in resting heart rate relative to the individual baseline. Our findings suggest that activity tracking and health monitoring via consumer wearable devices may be used for the large-scale, real-time detection of respiratory infections, often pre-symptomatically.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41551-020-00640-6
View details for PubMedID 33208926
Characterization of the molecular function of the human genome and its variation across individuals is essential for identifying the cellular mechanisms that underlie human genetic traits and diseases. The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project aims to characterize variation in gene expression levels across individuals and diverse tissues of the human body, many of which are not easily accessible. Here we describe genetic effects on gene expression levels across 44 human tissues. We find that local genetic variation affects gene expression levels for the majority of genes, and we further identify inter-chromosomal genetic effects for 93 genes and 112 loci. On the basis of the identified genetic effects, we characterize patterns of tissue specificity, compare local and distal effects, and evaluate the functional properties of the genetic effects. We also demonstrate that multi-tissue, multi-individual data can be used to identify genes and pathways affected by human disease-associated variation, enabling a mechanistic interpretation of gene regulation and the genetic basis of disease.
View details for PubMedID 29022597
Rare genetic variants are abundant in humans and are expected to contribute to individual disease risk. While genetic association studies have successfully identified common genetic variants associated with susceptibility, these studies are not practical for identifying rare variants. Efforts to distinguish pathogenic variants from benign rare variants have leveraged the genetic code to identify deleterious protein-coding alleles, but no analogous code exists for non-coding variants. Therefore, ascertaining which rare variants have phenotypic effects remains a major challenge. Rare non-coding variants have been associated with extreme gene expression in studies using single tissues, but their effects across tissues are unknown. Here we identify gene expression outliers, or individuals showing extreme expression levels for a particular gene, across 44 human tissues by using combined analyses of whole genomes and multi-tissue RNA-sequencing data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project v6p release. We find that 58% of underexpression and 28% of overexpression outliers have nearby conserved rare variants compared to 8% of non-outliers. Additionally, we developed RIVER (RNA-informed variant effect on regulation), a Bayesian statistical model that incorporates expression data to predict a regulatory effect for rare variants with higher accuracy than models using genomic annotations alone. Overall, we demonstrate that rare variants contribute to large gene expression changes across tissues and provide an integrative method for interpretation of rare variants in individual genomes.
View details for PubMedID 29022581
X chromosome inactivation (XCI) silences transcription from one of the two X chromosomes in female mammalian cells to balance expression dosage between XX females and XY males. XCI is, however, incomplete in humans: up to one-third of X-chromosomal genes are expressed from both the active and inactive X chromosomes (Xa and Xi, respectively) in female cells, with the degree of 'escape' from inactivation varying between genes and individuals. The extent to which XCI is shared between cells and tissues remains poorly characterized, as does the degree to which incomplete XCI manifests as detectable sex differences in gene expression and phenotypic traits. Here we describe a systematic survey of XCI, integrating over 5,500 transcriptomes from 449 individuals spanning 29 tissues from GTEx (v6p release) and 940 single-cell transcriptomes, combined with genomic sequence data. We show that XCI at 683 X-chromosomal genes is generally uniform across human tissues, but identify examples of heterogeneity between tissues, individuals and cells. We show that incomplete XCI affects at least 23% of X-chromosomal genes, identify seven genes that escape XCI with support from multiple lines of evidence and demonstrate that escape from XCI results in sex biases in gene expression, establishing incomplete XCI as a mechanism that is likely to introduce phenotypic diversity. Overall, this updated catalogue of XCI across human tissues helps to increase our understanding of the extent and impact of the incompleteness in the maintenance of XCI.
View details for PubMedID 29022598
Adenosine-to-inosine (A-to-I) RNA editing is a conserved post-transcriptional mechanism mediated by ADAR enzymes that diversifies the transcriptome by altering selected nucleotides in RNA molecules. Although many editing sites have recently been discovered, the extent to which most sites are edited and how the editing is regulated in different biological contexts are not fully understood. Here we report dynamic spatiotemporal patterns and new regulators of RNA editing, discovered through an extensive profiling of A-to-I RNA editing in 8,551 human samples (representing 53 body sites from 552 individuals) from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project and in hundreds of other primate and mouse samples. We show that editing levels in non-repetitive coding regions vary more between tissues than editing levels in repetitive regions. Globally, ADAR1 is the primary editor of repetitive sites and ADAR2 is the primary editor of non-repetitive coding sites, whereas the catalytically inactive ADAR3 predominantly acts as an inhibitor of editing. Cross-species analysis of RNA editing in several tissues revealed that species, rather than tissue type, is the primary determinant of editing levels, suggesting stronger cis-directed regulation of RNA editing for most sites, although the small set of conserved coding sites is under stronger trans-regulation. In addition, we curated an extensive set of ADAR1 and ADAR2 targets and showed that many editing sites display distinct tissue-specific regulation by the ADAR enzymes in vivo. Further analysis of the GTEx data revealed several potential regulators of editing, such as AIMP2, which reduces editing in muscles by enhancing the degradation of the ADAR proteins. Collectively, our work provides insights into the complex cis- and trans-regulation of A-to-I editing.
View details for PubMedID 29022589