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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Feb 16;107(7):2926-31. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0909344107. Epub 2010 Feb 1.

Histone modification levels are predictive for gene expression.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Molekulare Genetik, Department of Computational Molecular Biology, Ihnestrasse 73, 14195 Berlin, Germany.


Histones are frequently decorated with covalent modifications. These histone modifications are thought to be involved in various chromatin-dependent processes including transcription. To elucidate the relationship between histone modifications and transcription, we derived quantitative models to predict the expression level of genes from histone modification levels. We found that histone modification levels and gene expression are very well correlated. Moreover, we show that only a small number of histone modifications are necessary to accurately predict gene expression. We show that different sets of histone modifications are necessary to predict gene expression driven by high CpG content promoters (HCPs) or low CpG content promoters (LCPs). Quantitative models involving H3K4me3 and H3K79me1 are the most predictive of the expression levels in LCPs, whereas HCPs require H3K27ac and H4K20me1. Finally, we show that the connections between histone modifications and gene expression seem to be general, as we were able to predict gene expression levels of one cell type using a model trained on another one.

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