1 Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark2 Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark3 Behavioral Phenomics, Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark4 Harvard University5 Katholieke Universiteit6 Harvard University
Disease-causing variants in human genes usually lead to phenotypes specific to only a few tissues. Here, we present a method for predicting tissue specificity based on quantitative deregulation of protein complexes. The underlying assumption is that the degree of coordinated expression among proteins in a complex within a given tissue may pinpoint tissues that will be affected by a mutation in the complex and coordinated expression may reveal the complex to be active in the tissue. We identified known disease genes and their protein complex partners in a high-quality human interactome. Each susceptibility gene's tissue involvement was ranked based on coordinated expression with its interaction partners in a non-disease global map of human tissue-specific expression. The approach demonstrated high overall area under the curve (0.78) and was very successfully benchmarked against a random model and an approach not using protein complexes. This was illustrated by correct tissue predictions for three case studies on leptin, insulin-like-growth-factor 2 and the inhibitor of NF-κB kinase subunit gamma that show high concordant expression in biologically relevant tissues. Our method identifies novel gene-phenotype associations in human diseases and predicts the tissues where associated phenotypic effects may arise.