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PLoS Genet. 2016 Apr 8;12(4):e1005947. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005947. eCollection 2016 Apr.

Integrative Tissue-Specific Functional Annotations in the Human Genome Provide Novel Insights on Many Complex Traits and Improve Signal Prioritization in Genome Wide Association Studies.

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Department of Biostatistics, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
Program of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America.


Extensive efforts have been made to understand genomic function through both experimental and computational approaches, yet proper annotation still remains challenging, especially in non-coding regions. In this manuscript, we introduce GenoSkyline, an unsupervised learning framework to predict tissue-specific functional regions through integrating high-throughput epigenetic annotations. GenoSkyline successfully identified a variety of non-coding regulatory machinery including enhancers, regulatory miRNA, and hypomethylated transposable elements in extensive case studies. Integrative analysis of GenoSkyline annotations and results from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) led to novel biological insights on the etiologies of a number of human complex traits. We also explored using tissue-specific functional annotations to prioritize GWAS signals and predict relevant tissue types for each risk locus. Brain and blood-specific annotations led to better prioritization performance for schizophrenia than standard GWAS p-values and non-tissue-specific annotations. As for coronary artery disease, heart-specific functional regions was highly enriched of GWAS signals, but previously identified risk loci were found to be most functional in other tissues, suggesting a substantial proportion of still undetected heart-related loci. In summary, GenoSkyline annotations can guide genetic studies at multiple resolutions and provide valuable insights in understanding complex diseases. GenoSkyline is available at

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