Evidence for correlations between BMI-associated SNPs and circRNAs
Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are regulators of processes like adipogenesis. Their expression can be modulated by SNPs. We analysed links between BMI-associated SNPs and circRNAs. First, we detected an enrichment of BMI-associated SNPs on circRNA genomic loci in comparison to non-significant variants. Analysis of sex-stratified GWAS data revealed that circRNA genomic loci encompassed more genome-wide significant BMI-SNPs in females than in males. To explore whether the enrichment is restricted to BMI, we investigated nine additional GWAS studies. We showed an enrichment of trait-associated SNPs in circRNAs for four analysed phenotypes (body height, chronic kidney disease, anorexia nervosa and autism spectrum disorder). To analyse the influence of BMI-affecting SNPs on circRNA levels in vitro, we examined rs4752856 located on hsa_circ_0022025. The analysis of heterozygous individuals revealed an increased level of circRNA derived from the BMI-increasing SNP allele. We conclude that genetic variation may affect the BMI partly through circRNAs.