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Genome Res. 2010 Jun;20(6):761-70. doi: 10.1101/gr.099655.109. Epub 2010 Apr 29.

Evolutionarily conserved replication timing profiles predict long-range chromatin interactions and distinguish closely related cell types.

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  • 1Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 32306, USA.


To identify evolutionarily conserved features of replication timing and their relationship to epigenetic properties, we profiled replication timing genome-wide in four human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines, hESC-derived neural precursor cells (NPCs), lymphoblastoid cells, and two human induced pluripotent stem cell lines (hiPSCs), and compared them with related mouse cell types. Results confirm the conservation of coordinately replicated megabase-sized "replication domains" punctuated by origin-suppressed regions. Differentiation-induced replication timing changes in both species occur in 400- to 800-kb units and are similarly coordinated with transcription changes. A surprising degree of cell-type-specific conservation in replication timing was observed across regions of conserved synteny, despite considerable species variation in the alignment of replication timing to isochore GC/LINE-1 content. Notably, hESC replication timing profiles were significantly more aligned to mouse epiblast-derived stem cells (mEpiSCs) than to mouse ESCs. Comparison with epigenetic marks revealed a signature of chromatin modifications at the boundaries of early replicating domains and a remarkably strong link between replication timing and spatial proximity of chromatin as measured by Hi-C analysis. Thus, early and late initiation of replication occurs in spatially separate nuclear compartments, but rarely within the intervening chromatin. Moreover, cell-type-specific conservation of the replication program implies conserved developmental changes in spatial organization of chromatin. Together, our results reveal evolutionarily conserved aspects of developmentally regulated replication programs in mammals, demonstrate the power of replication profiling to distinguish closely related cell types, and strongly support the hypothesis that replication timing domains are spatially compartmentalized structural and functional units of three-dimensional chromosomal architecture.

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