Computational Methods for Assessing Chromatin Hierarchy.

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Computational Methods for Assessing Chromatin Hierarchy.

Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2018;16:43-53

Authors: Chang P, Gohain M, Yen MR, Chen PY

The hierarchical organization of chromatin is known to associate with diverse cellular functions; however, the precise mechanisms and the 3D structure remain to be determined. With recent advances in high-throughput next generation sequencing (NGS) techniques, genome-wide profiling of chromatin structures is made possible. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of NGS-based methods for profiling “higher-order” and “primary-order” chromatin structures from both experimental and computational aspects. Experimental requirements and considerations specific for each method were highlighted. For computational analysis, we summarized a common analysis strategy for both levels of chromatin assessment, focusing on the characteristic computing steps and the tools. The recently developed single-cell level techniques based on Hi-C and ATAC-seq present great potential to reveal cell-to-cell variability in chromosome architecture. A brief discussion on these methods in terms of experimental and data analysis features is included. We also touch upon the biological relevance of chromatin organization and how the combination with other techniques uncovers the underlying mechanisms. We conclude with a summary and our prospects on necessary improvements of currently available methods in order to advance understanding of chromatin hierarchy. Our review brings together the analyses of both higher- and primary-order chromatin structures, and serves as a roadmap when choosing appropriate experimental and computational methods for assessing chromatin hierarchy.

PMID: 29686798 [PubMed]

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