A systems genomics approach uncovers molecular associates of RSV severity.


Globally, RSV infection results in millions of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths each year. Specific factors that contribute to disease severity, such as premature birth and certain comorbidities, are well established. Additionally, genetic variants resulting in alterations in the adaptive and innate immune response appear to be associated with RSV severity. While previous studies focused on a single aspect of the disease, we jointly modeled the association of disparate data modalities with RSV severity. To investigate the host response to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection in infants, we performed a systems-level study of RSV pathophysiology, incorporating high-throughput measurements of the peripheral innate and adaptive immune systems and the airway epithelium and microbiota. Specifically, we developed and employed a novel multi-omic data integration method based on multilayered principal component analysis, penalized regression, and feature weight back-propagation. Our novel approach enabled us to identify cell type specific and shared cellular pathways associated with RSV severity. Of particular interest was the association between RSV severity, activation of pathways controlling Th17 and acute phase response signaling, and inhibition of B cell receptor signaling, which were present in both airway and immune cells. These data identify specific aspects of dysregulation between the humoral and mucosal response to RSV that may play a critical role in determining illness severity.

Matthew N. McCall
Matthew N. McCall
Associate Professor of Biostatistics and Biomedical Genetics