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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 22;11(3):e0151917. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151917. eCollection 2016.

Classification of Promoters Based on the Combination of Core Promoter Elements Exhibits Different Histone Modification Patterns.

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Japan Science and Technology Agency, PRESTO (Precursory Research for Embryonic Science and Technology), Saitama, Japan.
Bioinformatics Center, Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


Four different histones (H2A, H2B, H3, and H4; two subunits each) constitute a histone octamer, around which DNA wraps to form histone-DNA complexes called nucleosomes. Amino acid residues in each histone are occasionally modified, resulting in several biological effects, including differential regulation of transcription. Core promoters that encompass the transcription start site have well-conserved DNA motifs, including the initiator (Inr), TATA box, and DPE, which are collectively called the core promoter elements (CPEs). In this study, we systematically studied the associations between the CPEs and histone modifications by integrating the Drosophila Core Promoter Database and time-series ChIP-seq data for histone modifications (H3K4me3, H3K27ac, and H3K27me3) during development in Drosophila melanogaster via the modENCODE project. We classified 96 core promoters into four groups based on the presence or absence of the TATA box or DPE, calculated the histone modification ratio at the core promoter region, and transcribed region for each core promoter. We found that the histone modifications in TATA-less groups were static during development and that the core promoters could be clearly divided into three types: i) core promoters with continuous active marks (H3K4me3 and H3K27ac), ii) core promoters with a continuous inactive mark (H3K27me3) and occasional active marks, and iii) core promoters with occasional histone modifications. Linear regression analysis and non-linear regression by random forest showed that the TATA-containing groups included core promoters without histone modifications, for which the measured RNA expression values were not predictable accurately from the histone modification status. DPE-containing groups had a higher relative frequency of H3K27me3 in both the core promoter region and transcribed region. In summary, our analysis showed that there was a systematic link between the existence of the CPEs and the dynamics, frequency and influence on transcriptional activity of histone modifications.

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