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Publication Date


JAX Source

Sci Rep 2018 Oct 30; 8(1):16048





GM124922, The Jackson Laboratory Startup Funds


Enhancers are cis-acting sequences that regulate transcription rates of their target genes in a cell-specific manner and harbor disease-associated sequence variants in cognate cell types. Many complex diseases are associated with enhancer malfunction, necessitating the discovery and study of enhancers from clinical samples. Assay for Transposase Accessible Chromatin (ATAC-seq) technology can interrogate chromatin accessibility from small cell numbers and facilitate studying enhancers in pathologies. However, on average, ~35% of open chromatin regions (OCRs) from ATAC-seq samples map to enhancers. We developed a neural network-based model, Predicting Enhancers from ATAC-Seq data (PEAS), to effectively infer enhancers from clinical ATAC-seq samples by extracting ATAC-seq data features and integrating these with sequence-related features (e.g., GC ratio). PEAS recapitulated ChromHMM-defined enhancers in CD14+ monocytes, CD4+ T cells, GM12878, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, and pancreatic islets. PEAS models trained on these 5 cell types effectively predicted enhancers in four cell types that are not used in model training (EndoC-βH1, naïve CD8+ T, MCF7, and K562 cells). Finally, PEAS inferred individual-specific enhancers from 19 islet ATAC-seq samples and revealed variability in enhancer activity across individuals, including those driven by genetic differences. PEAS is an easy-to-use tool developed to study enhancers in pathologies by taking advantage of the increasing number of clinical epigenomes.


We thank Jane Cha for aid in graphic design for Figure 1. We thank members of Ucar and Stitzel labs for critical feedback during the progress of the study.

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