Allele-specific open chromatin in human iPSC neurons elucidates functional disease variants

Most neuropsychiatric disease risk variants are in noncoding sequences and lack functional interpretation. Because regulatory sequences often reside in open chromatin, we reasoned that neuropsychiatric disease risk variants may affect chromatin accessibility during neurodevelopment. Using human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)–derived neurons that model developing brains, we identified thousands of genetic variants exhibiting allele-specific open chromatin (ASoC). These neuronal ASoCs were partially driven by altered transcription factor binding, overrepresented in brain gene enhancers and expression quantitative trait loci, and frequently associated with distal genes through chromatin contacts. ASoCs were enriched for genetic variants associated with brain disorders, enabling identification of functional schizophrenia risk variants and their cis-target genes. This study highlights ASoC as a functional mechanism of noncoding neuropsychiatric risk variants, providing a powerful framework for identifying disease causal variants and genes.