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Improved accuracy assessment for 3D genome reconstructions.


BACKGROUND:Three dimensional (3D) genome spatial organization is critical for numerous cellular functions, including transcription, while certain conformation-driven structural alterations are frequently oncogenic. Genome conformation had been difficult to elucidate but the advent chromatin conformation capture assays, notably Hi-C, has transformed understanding of chromatin architecture and yielded numerous biological insights. Although most of these findings have flowed from analysis of proximity data produced by these assays, added value in generating 3D reconstructions has been demonstrated, deriving, in part, from superposing genomic features on the reconstruction. However, advantages of 3D structure-based analyses are clearly conditional on the accuracy of the attendant reconstructions, which is difficult to assess. Proponents of competing reconstruction algorithms have evaluated their accuracy by recourse to simulation of toy structures and/or limited fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) imaging that features a handful of low resolution probes. Accordingly, new methods of reconstruction accuracy assessment are needed. RESULTS:Here we utilize two recently devised assays to develop methodology for assessing 3D reconstruction accuracy. Multiplex FISH increases the number of probes by an order of magnitude and hence the number of inter-probe distances by two orders, providing sufficient information for structure-level evaluation via mean-squared deviations (MSD). Crucially, underscoring multiplex FISH applications are large numbers of coordinate-system aligned replicates that provide the basis for a referent distribution for MSD statistics. Using this system we show that reconstructions based on Hi-C data for IMR90 cells are accurate for some chromosomes but not others. The second new assay, genome architecture mapping, utilizes large numbers of thin cryosections to obtain a measure of proximity. We exploit the planarity of the cryosections - not used in inferring proximity - to obtain measures of reconstruction accuracy, with referents provided via resampling. Application to mouse embryonic stem cells shows reconstruction accuracies that vary by chromosome. CONCLUSIONS:We have developed methods for assessing the accuracy of 3D genome reconstructions that exploit features of recently advanced multiplex FISH and genome architecture mapping assays. These approaches can help overcome the absence of gold standards for making such assessments which are important in view of the considerable uncertainties surrounding 3D genome reconstruction.

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