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Nat Genet. 2015 Nov;47(11):1249-59. doi: 10.1038/ng.3402. Epub 2015 Sep 21.

Early enhancer establishment and regulatory locus complexity shape transcriptional programs in hematopoietic differentiation.

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Computational Biology Program, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA.


We carried out an integrative analysis of enhancer landscape and gene expression dynamics during hematopoietic differentiation using DNase-seq, histone mark ChIP-seq and RNA sequencing to model how the early establishment of enhancers and regulatory locus complexity govern gene expression changes at cell state transitions. We found that high-complexity genes-those with a large total number of DNase-mapped enhancers across the lineage-differ architecturally and functionally from low-complexity genes, achieve larger expression changes and are enriched for both cell type-specific and transition enhancers, which are established in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and maintained in one differentiated cell fate but lost in others. We then developed a quantitative model to accurately predict gene expression changes from the DNA sequence content and lineage history of active enhancers. Our method suggests a new mechanistic role for PU.1 at transition peaks during B cell specification and can be used to correct assignments of enhancers to genes.

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