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Enhancer elements control mammalian transcription largely in a cell-type-specific manner. The genome-wide identification of enhancer elements and their activity status in a cellular context is therefore fundamental to understanding cell identity and function. We determined enhancer activity in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells using chromatin modifications and characterised their global properties. Specifically, we first grouped enhancers into 5 groups using multiple H3K4me1, H3K27ac, and H3K27me3 modification data sets. Active enhancers (simultaneous presence of H3K4me1 and H3K27ac) were enriched for binding of pluripotency factors and were found near pluripotency-related genes. Although both H3K4me1-only and active enhancers were enriched for super-enhancers and a TATA box like motif, active enhancers were preferentially bound by RNA polII (s2) and were enriched for bidirectional transcription, while H3K4me1-only enhancers were enriched for RNA polII (8WG16) suggesting they were likely poised. Bivalent enhancers (simultaneous presence of H3K4me1 and H3K27me3) were preferentially in the vicinity of bivalent genes. They were enriched for binding of components of polycomb complex as well as Tcf3 and Oct4. Moreover, a 'CTTTCTC' de-novo motif was enriched at bivalent enhancers, previously identified at bivalent promoters in ES cells. Taken together, 3 histone modifications successfully demarcated active, bivalent, and poised enhancers with distinct sequence and binding features.
- gene expression