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Journal Club March 31st – A 3D Map of the Human Genome


This month the Journal Club returns with a double helping of science! Dr. Oliver Medvedik will be hosting the Journal Club this month and covering not one, but two scientific publications.

The first is the 2014 “A three-dimensional map of the human genome at kilobase resolution reveals principles of chromatin looping” paper [1].

We use in situ Hi-C to probe the three-dimensional architecture of genomes, constructing haploid and diploid maps of nine cell types. The densest, in human lymphoblastoid cells, contains 4.9 billion contacts, achieving 1-kilobase resolution. We find that genomes are partitioned into local domains, which are associated with distinct patterns of histone marks and segregate into six subcompartments. We identify ~10,000 loops. These loops frequently link promoters and enhancers, correlate with gene activation, and show conservation across cell types and species. Loop anchors typically occur at domain boundaries and bind CTCF. CTCF sites at loop anchors occur predominantly (>90%) in a convergent orientation, with the asymmetric motifs ‘facing’ one another. The inactive X-chromosome splits into two massive domains and contains large loops anchored at CTCF-binding repeats.

The second paper is going to be “Nanopore sequencing of DNA concatemers reveals higher-order features of chromatin structure” which is linked to the first paper through the use of Hi-C [2].

Higher-order chromatin structure arises from the combinatorial physical interactions of many genomic loci. To investigate this aspect of genome architecture we developed Pore-C, which couples chromatin conformation capture with Oxford Nanopore Technologies (ONT) long reads to directly sequence multi-way chromatin contacts without amplification. In GM12878, we demonstrate that the pairwise interaction patterns implicit in Pore-C multi-way contacts are consistent with gold standard Hi-C pairwise contact maps at the compartment, TAD, and loop scales. In addition, Pore-C also detects higher-order chromatin structure at 18.5-fold higher efficiency and greater fidelity than SPRITE, a previously published higher-order chromatin profiling technology. We demonstrate Pore-C’s ability to detect and visualize multi-locus hubs associated with histone locus bodies and active / inactive nuclear compartments in GM12878. In the breast cancer cell line HCC1954, Pore-C contacts enable the reconstruction of complex and aneuploid rearranged alleles spanning multiple megabases and chromosomes. Finally, we apply Pore-C to generate a chromosome scale de novo assembly of the HG002 genome. Our results establish Pore-C as the most simple and scalable assay for the genome-wide assessment of combinatorial chromatin interactions, with additional applications for cancer rearrangement reconstruction and de novo genome assembly.


[1] Rao, S. S., Huntley, M. H., Durand, N. C., Stamenova, E. K., Bochkov, I. D., Robinson, J. T., … & Aiden, E. L. (2014). A 3D map of the human genome at kilobase resolution reveals principles of chromatin looping. Cell, 159(7), 1665-1680.

[2] Ulahannan, N., Pendleton, M., Deshpande, A., Schwenk, S., Behr, J. M., Dai, X., … & Tian, H. (2019). Nanopore sequencing of DNA concatemers reveals higher-order features of chromatin structure. bioRxiv, 833590.

About the author

Steve Hill

Steve serves on the LEAF Board of Directors and is the Editor in Chief, coordinating the daily news articles and social media content of the organization. He is an active journalist in the aging research and biotechnology field and has to date written over 600 articles on the topic, interviewed over 100 of the leading researchers in the field, hosted livestream events focused on aging, as well as attending various medical industry conferences. His work has been featured in H+ magazine, Psychology Today, Singularity Weblog, Standpoint Magazine, Swiss Monthly, Keep me Prime, and New Economy Magazine. Steve is one of three recipients of the 2020 H+ Innovator Award and shares this honour with Mirko Ranieri – Google AR and Dinorah Delfin – Immortalists Magazine. The H+ Innovator Award looks into our community and acknowledges ideas and projects that encourage social change, achieve scientific accomplishments, technological advances, philosophical and intellectual visions, author unique narratives, build fascinating artistic ventures, and develop products that bridge gaps and help us to achieve transhumanist goals. Steve has a background in project management and administration which has helped him to build a united team for effective fundraising and content creation, while his additional knowledge of biology and statistical data analysis allows him to carefully assess and coordinate the scientific groups involved in the project.
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