A problem of substantial interest is to systematically map variation in chromatin structure to gene expression regulation across conditions, environments, or differentiated cell types. We developed and applied a quantitative framework for determining the existence, strength, and type of relationship between high-resolution chromatin structure in terms of DNaseI hypersensitivity (DHS) and genome-wide gene expression levels in 20 diverse human cell lines. We show that ~25% of genes show cell-type specific expression explained by alterations in chromatin structure. We find that distal regions of chromatin structure (e.g., +/-200kb) capture more genes with this relationship than local regions (e.g., +/-2.5kb), yet the local regions show a more pronounced effect. By exploiting variation across cell-types, we were capable of pinpointing the most likely hypersensitive sites related to cell-type specific expression, which we show have a range of contextual usages. This quantitative framework is likely applicable to other settings aimed at relating continuous genomic measurements to gene expression variation.

Algorithms, Data, and Results

Please report bugs to Troels Marstrand at troels.marstrand at gmail.com or tmarstra at Princeton.EDU.

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