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A unidirectional histone code in bidirectional promoters across cell types

Recent studies indicate that thousands of genes are expressed from bidirectional promoters (BDPs). Gene regulation at BDPs is poorly understood, in particular how the cell is able to regulate them differently. Here we investigate the effect of histone Modifications in BDP regulation. In this study, we model the gene activity using different gene expression assays, such as RNA-Seq, GRO-cap, and CAGE around the BDP transcription start sites (TSSs) using different histone modifications in various cell types. We develop a new statistical approach that links histone modifications to gene expression at BDPs. It improves over previous methods, because it is able to capture spatial dependencies of histone modifications along a promoter and leads to more interpretable results. We predict a general histone code that is independent of transcript orientation, cell type, and promoter configuration. The histone code at BDPs reveals that promoters are regulated unidirectionally, such that the majority of histone marks associated with gene expression occur downstream of the gene's TSS. By contrasting associations of histone marks with steady-state levels of capped RNAs in CAGE and nascent capped RNAs in GRO-cap, we show which histone marks have a preference for initiating polymerases and actively elongating polymerases. Using single-cell data we show that the bidirectional histone signal of activating marks is often due averaging of a heterogeneous cell population. Our results have implications for other experiments where the relationship between histone modification and gene initiation or gene elongation is investigated on a genome-wide scale.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001005953 Illumina HiSeq 2500 1
EGAD00001005954 Illumina HiSeq 2500 1
Publications Citations
Integrative analysis of single-cell expression data reveals distinct regulatory states in bidirectional promoters.
Epigenetics Chromatin 11: 2018 66