Genome-wide association studies reveal the complex polygenic architecture underlying psychiatric disorder risk, but there is an unmet need to validate causal variants, resolve their target genes(s), and explore their functional impacts on disorder-related mechanisms. Disorder-associated loci regulate transcription of target genes in a cell type- and context-specific manner, which can be measured through expression quantitative trait loci. In this review, we discuss methods and insights from context-specific modeling of genetically and environmentally regulated expression. Human induced pluripotent stem cell–derived cell type and organoid models have uncovered context-specific psychiatric disorder associations by investigating tissue-, cell type-, sex-, age-, and stressor-specific genetic regulation of expression. Techniques such as massively parallel reporter assays and pooled CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) screens make it possible to functionally fine-map genome-wide association study loci and validate their target genes at scale. Integration of disorder-associated contexts with these patient-specific human induced pluripotent stem cell models makes it possible to uncover gene by environment interactions that mediate disorder risk, which will ultimately improve our ability to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-650
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL)
  • Genome-wide association studies (GWASs)
  • Human induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Massively parallel reporter assays (MPRAs)


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