Bidirectional transcription initiation marks accessible chromatin and is not specific to enhancers.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Enhancers are modular regulatory elements that are central to the spatial and temporal regulation of gene expression. Bidirectional transcription initiating at enhancers has been proposed to mark active enhancers and as such has been utilized to experimentally identify active enhancers de novo. RESULTS:Here, we show that bidirectional transcription initiation is a pervasive feature of accessible chromatin, including at enhancers, promoters, and other DNase hypersensitive regions not marked with canonical histone modification profiles. Transcription is less predictive for enhancer activity than epigenetic modifications such as H3K4me1 or the accessibility of DNA when measured both in enhancer assays and at endogenous loci. The stability of enhancer initiated transcripts does not influence measures of enhancer activity and we cannot detect evidence of purifying selection on the resulting enhancer RNAs within the human population. CONCLUSIONS:Our results indicate that bidirectional transcription initiation from accessible chromatin is not sufficient for, nor specific to, enhancer activity. Transcription initiating at enhancers may be a frequent by-product of promiscuous RNA polymerase initiation at accessible chromatin and is unlikely to generally play a functional role in enhancer activity.
Project description:Nuclear DNA wraps around core histones to form nucleosomes, which restricts the binding of transcription factors to gene regulatory sequences. Pioneer transcription factors can bind DNA sites on nucleosomes and initiate gene regulatory events, often leading to the local opening of chromatin. However, the nucleosomal configuration of open chromatin and the basis for its regulation is unclear. We combined low and high levels of micrococcal nuclease (MNase) digestion along with core histone mapping to assess the nucleosomal configuration at enhancers and promoters in mouse liver. We find that MNase-accessible nucleosomes, bound by transcription factors, are retained more at liver-specific enhancers than at promoters and ubiquitous enhancers. The pioneer factor FoxA displaces linker histone H1, thereby keeping enhancer nucleosomes accessible in chromatin and allowing other liver-specific transcription factors to bind and stimulate transcription. Thus, nucleosomes are not exclusively repressive to gene regulation when they are retained with, and exposed by, pioneer factors.
Project description:Genomic enhancer elements regulate gene expression programs important for neuronal fate and function and are implicated in brain disease states. Enhancers undergo bidirectional transcription to generate non-coding enhancer RNAs (eRNAs). However, eRNA function remains controversial. Here, we combined Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using Sequencing (ATAC-Seq) and RNA-Seq datasets from three distinct neuronal culture systems in two activity states, enabling genome-wide enhancer identification and prediction of putative enhancer-gene pairs based on correlation of transcriptional output. Notably, stimulus-dependent enhancer transcription preceded mRNA induction, and CRISPR-based activation of eRNA synthesis increased mRNA at paired genes, functionally validating enhancer-gene predictions. Focusing on enhancers surrounding the Fos gene, we report that targeted eRNA manipulation bidirectionally modulates Fos mRNA, and that Fos eRNAs directly interact with the histone acetyltransferase domain of the enhancer-linked transcriptional co-activator CREB-binding protein (CBP). Together, these results highlight the unique role of eRNAs in neuronal gene regulation and demonstrate that eRNAs can be used to identify putative target genes.
Project description:RNA polymerase transcription initiation sites are largely unknown in Caenorhabditis elegans. The initial 5' end of most protein-coding transcripts is removed by trans-splicing, and noncoding initiation sites have not been investigated. We characterized the landscape of RNA Pol II transcription initiation, identifying 73,500 distinct clusters of initiation. Bidirectional transcription is frequent, with a peak of transcriptional pairing at 120 bp. We assign transcription initiation sites to 7691 protein-coding genes and find that they display features typical of eukaryotic promoters. Strikingly, the majority of initiation events occur in regions with enhancer-like chromatin signatures. Based on the overlap of transcription initiation clusters with mapped transcription factor binding sites, we define 2361 transcribed intergenic enhancers. Remarkably, productive transcription elongation across these enhancers is predominantly in the same orientation as that of the nearest downstream gene. Directed elongation from an upstream enhancer toward a downstream gene could potentially deliver RNA polymerase II to a proximal promoter, or alternatively might function directly as a distal promoter. Our results provide a new resource to investigate transcription regulation in metazoans.
Project description:Epigenomic mapping of enhancer-associated chromatin modifications facilitates the genome-wide discovery of tissue-specific enhancers in vivo. However, reliance on single chromatin marks leads to high rates of false-positive predictions. More sophisticated, integrative methods have been described, but commonly suffer from limited accessibility to the resulting predictions and reduced biological interpretability. Here we present the Limb-Enhancer Genie (LEG), a collection of highly accurate, genome-wide predictions of enhancers in the developing limb, available through a user-friendly online interface. We predict limb enhancers using a combination of >50 published limb-specific datasets and clusters of evolutionarily conserved transcription factor binding sites, taking advantage of the patterns observed at previously in vivo validated elements. By combining different statistical models, our approach outperforms current state-of-the-art methods and provides interpretable measures of feature importance. Our results indicate that including a previously unappreciated score that quantifies tissue-specific nuclease accessibility significantly improves prediction performance. We demonstrate the utility of our approach through in vivo validation of newly predicted elements. Moreover, we describe general features that can guide the type of datasets to include when predicting tissue-specific enhancers genome-wide, while providing an accessible resource to the general biological community and facilitating the functional interpretation of genetic studies of limb malformations.
Project description:The tumor suppressor p53 is a well-characterized transcription factor that can bind gene promoters and regulate target gene transcription in response to DNA damage. Recent studies, however, have revealed that p53 binding events occur predominantly within regulatory enhancer elements. The effect of p53 binding on enhancer function has not been systematically evaluated. Here, we perform a genome-scale analysis of enhancer activity from p53-bound sequences using a series of massively parallel reporter assays (MPRAs) coupled with the assay for transposase-accessible chromatin (ATAC-Seq). We find that the majority of sequences examined display p53-dependent enhancer activity during the DNA damage response. Furthermore, we observe that p53 is bound to enhancer elements in healthy fibroblasts and poised for rapid activation in response to DNA damage. Surprisingly, our analyses revealed that most p53-bound enhancers are located within regions of inaccessible chromatin. A large subset of these enhancers become accessible following DNA damage indicating that p53 regulates their activity, in part, by modulating chromatin accessibility. The recognition and activation of enhancer elements located within inaccessible chromatin may contribute to the ability of the p53 network to function across the diverse chromatin landscapes of different tissues and cell types.
Project description:Active enhancers in mammals produce enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) that are bidirectionally transcribed, unspliced, and unstable. Enhancer regions are also enriched with long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) transcripts, which are typically spliced and substantially more stable. In order to explore the relationship between these two classes of RNAs, we analyzed DNase hypersensitive sites with evidence of bidirectional transcription, which we termed eRNA-producing centers (EPCs). EPCs found very close to transcription start sites of lncRNAs exhibit attributes of both enhancers and promoters, including distinctive DNA motifs and a characteristic chromatin landscape. These EPCs are associated with higher enhancer activity, driven at least in part by the presence of conserved, directional splicing signals that promote lncRNA production, pointing at a causal role of lncRNA processing in enhancer activity. Together, our results suggest that the conserved ability of some enhancers to produce lncRNAs augments their activity in a manner likely mediated through lncRNA maturation.
Project description:Enhancer elements control mammalian transcription largely in a cell-type-specific manner. The genome-wide identification of enhancer elements and their activity status in a cellular context is therefore fundamental to understanding cell identity and function. We determined enhancer activity in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells using chromatin modifications and characterised their global properties. Specifically, we first grouped enhancers into 5 groups using multiple H3K4me1, H3K27ac, and H3K27me3 modification data sets. Active enhancers (simultaneous presence of H3K4me1 and H3K27ac) were enriched for binding of pluripotency factors and were found near pluripotency-related genes. Although both H3K4me1-only and active enhancers were enriched for super-enhancers and a TATA box like motif, active enhancers were preferentially bound by RNA polII (s2) and were enriched for bidirectional transcription, while H3K4me1-only enhancers were enriched for RNA polII (8WG16) suggesting they were likely poised. Bivalent enhancers (simultaneous presence of H3K4me1 and H3K27me3) were preferentially in the vicinity of bivalent genes. They were enriched for binding of components of polycomb complex as well as Tcf3 and Oct4. Moreover, a 'CTTTCTC' de-novo motif was enriched at bivalent enhancers, previously identified at bivalent promoters in ES cells. Taken together, 3 histone modifications successfully demarcated active, bivalent, and poised enhancers with distinct sequence and binding features.
Project description:RNA functions at enhancers remain mysterious. Here we show that the 7SK small nuclear RNA (snRNA) inhibits enhancer transcription by modulating nucleosome position. 7SK occupies enhancers and super enhancers genome wide in mouse and human cells, and it is required to limit enhancer-RNA initiation and synthesis in a manner distinct from promoter pausing. Clustered elements at super enhancers uniquely require 7SK to prevent convergent transcription and DNA-damage signaling. 7SK physically interacts with the BAF chromatin-remodeling complex, recruits BAF to enhancers and inhibits enhancer transcription by modulating chromatin structure. In turn, 7SK occupancy at enhancers coincides with that of Brd4 and is exquisitely sensitive to the bromodomain inhibitor JQ1. Thus, 7SK uses distinct mechanisms to counteract the diverse consequences of pervasive transcription that distinguish super enhancers, enhancers and promoters.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Long noncoding enhancer RNAs (lnc-eRNAs) are a subset of stable eRNAs identified from annotated lncRNAs. They might act as enhancer activity-related therapeutic targets in cancer. However, the underlying mechanism of epigenetic activation and their function in cancer initiation and progression remain largely unknown. RESULTS:We identify a set of lncRNAs as lnc-eRNAs according to the epigenetic signatures of enhancers. We show that these lnc-eRNAs are broadly activated in MLL-rearranged leukemia (MLL leukemia), an aggressive leukemia caused by a chromosomal translocation, through a mechanism by which the HOXA cluster initiates enhancer activity, and the epigenetic reader BRD4 cooperates with the coregulator MLL fusion oncoprotein to induce transcriptional activation. To demonstrate the functional roles of lnc-eRNAs, two newly identified lnc-eRNAs transcribed from the SEELA eRNA cluster (SEELA), SEELA1 and SEELA2, are chosen for further studies. The results show that SEELA mediated cis-activated transcription of the nearby oncogene Serine incorporate 2 (SERINC2) by directly binding to the K31 amino acid (aa) of histone H4. Chromatin-bound SEELA strengthens the interaction between chromatin and histone modifiers to promote histone recognition and oncogene transcription. Further studies show that the SEELA-SERINC2 axis regulated aspects of cancer metabolism, such as sphingolipid synthesis, to affect leukemia progression. CONCLUSIONS:This study shows that lnc-eRNAs are epigenetically activated by cancer-initiating oncoproteins and uncovers a cis-activating mechanism of oncogene transcription control based on lnc-eRNA-mediated epigenetic regulation of enhancer activity, providing insights into the critical roles of lnc-eRNAs in cancer initiation and progression.
Project description:Establishment of spatial coordinates during Drosophila embryogenesis relies on differential regulatory activity of axis patterning enhancers. Concentration gradients of activator and repressor transcription factors (TFs) provide positional information to each enhancer, which in turn promotes transcription of a target gene in a specific spatial pattern. However, the interplay between an enhancer regulatory activity and its accessibility as determined by local chromatin organization is not well understood. We profiled chromatin accessibility with ATAC-seq in narrow, genetically tagged domains along the antero-posterior axis in the Drosophila blastoderm. We demonstrate that one-quarter of the accessible genome displays significant regional variation in its ATAC-seq signal immediately after zygotic genome activation. Axis patterning enhancers are enriched among the most variable intervals, and their accessibility changes correlate with their regulatory activity. In an embryonic domain where an enhancer receives a net activating TF input and promotes transcription, it displays elevated accessibility in comparison to a domain where it receives a net repressive input. We propose that differential accessibility is a signature of patterning cis-regulatory elements in the Drosophila blastoderm and discuss potential mechanisms by which accessibility of enhancers may be modulated by activator and repressor TFs.