PLoS Comput Biol
PLoS Comput Biol 2021 Dec 13; 17(12):e1009670
Cis-Regulatory elements (cis-REs) include promoters, enhancers, and insulators that regulate gene expression programs via binding of transcription factors. ATAC-seq technology effectively identifies active cis-REs in a given cell type (including from single cells) by mapping accessible chromatin at base-pair resolution. However, these maps are not immediately useful for inferring specific functions of cis-REs. For this purpose, we developed a deep learning framework (CoRE-ATAC) with novel data encoders that integrate DNA sequence (reference or personal genotypes) with ATAC-seq cut sites and read pileups. CoRE-ATAC was trained on 4 cell types (n = 6 samples/replicates) and accurately predicted known cis-RE functions from 7 cell types (n = 40 samples) that were not used in model training (mean average precision = 0.80, mean F1 score = 0.70). CoRE-ATAC enhancer predictions from 19 human islet samples coincided with genetically modulated gain/loss of enhancer activity, which was confirmed by massively parallel reporter assays (MPRAs). Finally, CoRE-ATAC effectively inferred cis-RE function from aggregate single nucleus ATAC-seq (snATAC) data from human blood-derived immune cells that overlapped with known functional annotations in sorted immune cells, which established the efficacy of these models to study cis-RE functions of rare cells without the need for cell sorting. ATAC-seq maps from primary human cells reveal individual- and cell-specific variation in cis-RE activity. CoRE-ATAC increases the functional resolution of these maps, a critical step for studying regulatory disruptions behind diseases.
Thibodeau, Asa; Khetan, Shubham; Eroglu, Alper; Tewhey, Ryan; Stitzel, Michael L.; and Ucar, Duygu, "CoRE-ATAC: A deep learning model for the functional classification of regulatory elements from single cell and bulk ATAC-seq data." (2021). Faculty Research 2021. 259.