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Identification of essential regulatory elements in the human genome

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

Posted 16 Oct 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/444562

The identification of essential regulatory elements is central to the understanding of the consequences of genetic variation. Here we use novel genomic data and machine learning techniques to map essential regulatory elements and to guide functional validation. We train an XGBoost model using 38 functional and structural features, including genome essentiality metrics, 3D genome organization and enhancer reporter STARR-seq data to differentiate between pathogenic and control non-coding genetic variants. We validate the accuracy of prediction by using data from tiling-deletion-based and CRISPR interference screens of activity of cis-regulatory elements. In neurodevelopmental disorders, the model (ncER, non-coding Essential Regulation) maps essential genomic segments within deletions and rearranged topologically associated domains linked to human disease. We show that the approach successfully identifies essential regulatory elements in the human genome.

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