Genome-wide strand asymmetry in massively parallel reporter activity favors genic strands.
ABSTRACT: Massively parallel reporter assays (MPRAs) are useful tools to characterize regulatory elements in human genomes. An aspect of MPRAs that is not typically the focus of analysis is their intrinsic ability to differentiate activity levels for a given sequence element when placed in both of its possible orientations relative to the reporter construct. Here, we describe pervasive strand asymmetry of MPRA signals in data sets from multiple reporter configurations in both published and newly reported data. These effects are reproducible across different cell types and in different treatments within a cell type and are observed both within and outside of annotated regulatory elements. From elements in gene bodies, MPRA strand asymmetry favors the sense strand, suggesting that function related to endogenous transcription is driving the phenomenon. Similarly, we find that within Alu mobile element insertions, strand asymmetry favors the transcribed strand of the ancestral retrotransposon. The effect is consistent across the multiplicity of Alu elements in human genomes and is more pronounced in less diverged Alu elements. We find sequence features driving MPRA strand asymmetry and show its prediction from sequence alone. We see some evidence for RNA stabilization and transcriptional activation mechanisms and hypothesize that the effect is driven by natural selection favoring efficient transcription. Our results indicate that strand asymmetry is a pervasive and reproducible feature in MPRA data. More importantly, the fact that MPRA asymmetry favors naturally transcribed strands suggests that it stems from preserved biological functions that have a substantial, global impact on gene and genome evolution.
PROVIDER: S-EPMC8092006 | BioStudies |