Identification of a functional FADS1 3'UTR variant associated with erythrocyte n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids levels.J Clin Lipidol. 2018 Sep - Oct; 12(5):1280-1289.JC
Blood polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels are determined by diet and by endogenous synthesis via Δ5- and Δ6-desaturases (encoded by the FADS1 and FADS2 genes, respectively). Genome-wide association studies have reported associations between FADS1-FADS2 polymorphisms and the plasma concentrations of PUFAs, HDL- and LDL-cholesterol, and triglycerides. However, much remains unknown regarding the molecular mechanisms explaining how variants affect the function of FADS1-FADS2 genes.
Here, we sought to identify the functional variant(s) within the FADS gene cluster.
To address this question, we (1) genotyped individuals (n = 540) for the rs174547 polymorphism to confirm associations with PUFA levels used as surrogate estimates of desaturase activities and (2) examined the functionality of variants in linkage disequilibrium with rs174547 using bioinformatics and luciferase reporter assays.
The rs174547 minor allele was associated with higher erythrocyte levels of dihomo-γ-linolenic acid and lower levels of arachidonic acid, suggesting a lower Δ5-desaturase activity. In silico analyses suggested that rs174545 and rs174546, in perfect linkage disequilibrium with rs174547, might alter miRNA binding sites in the FADS1 3'UTR. In HuH7 and HepG2 cells transfected with FADS1 3'UTR luciferase vectors, the haplotype constructs bearing the rs174546T minor allele showed 30% less luciferase activity. This relative decrease reached 60% in the presence of miR-149-5p and was partly abolished by cotransfection with an miR-149-5p inhibitor.
This study identifies FADS1 rs174546 as a functional variant that may explain the associations between FADS1-FADS2 polymorphisms and lipid-related phenotypes.