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Analysis of Normal Human Mammary Epigenomes Reveals Cell-Specific Active Enhancer States and Associated Transcription Factor Networks

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      Integrative analysis of 111 reference human epigenomes

      The reference human genome sequence set the stage for studies of genetic variation and its association with human disease, but a similar reference has lacked for epigenomic studies. To address this need, the NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Consortium generated the largest collection to-date of human epigenomes for primary cells and tissues. Here, we describe the integrative analysis of 111 reference human epigenomes generated as part of the program, profiled for histone modification patterns, DNA accessibility, DNA methylation, and RNA expression. We establish global maps of regulatory elements, define regulatory modules of coordinated activity, and their likely activators and repressors. We show that disease and trait-associated genetic variants are enriched in tissue-specific epigenomic marks, revealing biologically-relevant cell types for diverse human traits, and providing a resource for interpreting the molecular basis of human disease. Our results demonstrate the central role of epigenomic information for understanding gene regulation, cellular differentiation, and human disease.
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        A bivalent chromatin structure marks key developmental genes in embryonic stem cells.

        The most highly conserved noncoding elements (HCNEs) in mammalian genomes cluster within regions enriched for genes encoding developmentally important transcription factors (TFs). This suggests that HCNE-rich regions may contain key regulatory controls involved in development. We explored this by examining histone methylation in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells across 56 large HCNE-rich loci. We identified a specific modification pattern, termed "bivalent domains," consisting of large regions of H3 lysine 27 methylation harboring smaller regions of H3 lysine 4 methylation. Bivalent domains tend to coincide with TF genes expressed at low levels. We propose that bivalent domains silence developmental genes in ES cells while keeping them poised for activation. We also found striking correspondences between genome sequence and histone methylation in ES cells, which become notably weaker in differentiated cells. These results highlight the importance of DNA sequence in defining the initial epigenetic landscape and suggest a novel chromatin-based mechanism for maintaining pluripotency.
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          An atlas of active enhancers across human cell types and tissues.

          Enhancers control the correct temporal and cell-type-specific activation of gene expression in multicellular eukaryotes. Knowing their properties, regulatory activity and targets is crucial to understand the regulation of differentiation and homeostasis. Here we use the FANTOM5 panel of samples, covering the majority of human tissues and cell types, to produce an atlas of active, in vivo-transcribed enhancers. We show that enhancers share properties with CpG-poor messenger RNA promoters but produce bidirectional, exosome-sensitive, relatively short unspliced RNAs, the generation of which is strongly related to enhancer activity. The atlas is used to compare regulatory programs between different cells at unprecedented depth, to identify disease-associated regulatory single nucleotide polymorphisms, and to classify cell-type-specific and ubiquitous enhancers. We further explore the utility of enhancer redundancy, which explains gene expression strength rather than expression patterns. The online FANTOM5 enhancer atlas represents a unique resource for studies on cell-type-specific enhancers and gene regulation.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Cell Reports
            Cell Reports
            Elsevier BV
            22111247
            November 2016
            November 2016
            : 17
            : 8
            : 2060-2074
            10.1016/j.celrep.2016.10.058
            © 2016

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