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In Nature communications ; h5-index 260.0

A gene is considered essential if loss of function results in loss of viability, fitness or in disease. This concept is well established for coding genes; however, non-coding regions are thought less likely to be determinants of critical functions. Here we train a machine learning model using functional, mutational and structural features, including new genome essentiality metrics, 3D genome organization and enhancer reporter data to identify deleterious variants in non-coding regions. We assess the model for functional correlates by using data from tiling-deletion-based and CRISPR interference screens of activity of cis-regulatory elements in over 3 Mb of genome sequence. Finally, we explore two user cases that involve indels and the disruption of enhancers associated with a developmental disease. We rank variants in the non-coding genome according to their predicted deleteriousness. The model prioritizes non-coding regions associated with regulation of important genes and with cell viability, an in vitro surrogate of essentiality.

Wells Alex, Heckerman David, Torkamani Ali, Yin Li, Sebat Jonathan, Ren Bing, Telenti Amalio, di Iulio Julia