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In PLoS computational biology

Knowledge of genes that are critical to a tissue's function remains difficult to ascertain and presents a major bottleneck toward a mechanistic understanding of genotype-phenotype links. Here, we present the first machine learning model-FUGUE-combining transcriptional and network features, to predict tissue-relevant genes across 30 human tissues. FUGUE achieves an average cross-validation auROC of 0.86 and auPRC of 0.50 (expected 0.09). In independent datasets, FUGUE accurately distinguishes tissue or cell type-specific genes, significantly outperforming the conventional metric based on tissue-specific expression alone. Comparison of tissue-relevant transcription factors across tissue recapitulate their developmental relationships. Interestingly, the tissue-relevant genes cluster on the genome within topologically associated domains and furthermore, are highly enriched for differentially expressed genes in the corresponding cancer type. We provide the prioritized gene lists in 30 human tissues and an open-source software to prioritize genes in a novel context given multi-sample transcriptomic data.

Somepalli Gowthami, Sahoo Sarthak, Singh Arashdeep, Hannenhalli Sridhar