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Systematic alteration of ATAC-seq for profiling open chromatin in cryopreserved nuclei preparations from livestock tissues.


The use of Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin (ATAC-seq) to profile chromatin accessibility has surged over the past years, but its applicability to tissues has been very limited. With the intent of preserving nuclear architecture during long-term storage, cryopreserved nuclei preparations from chicken lung were used to optimize ATAC-seq. Sequencing data were compared with existing DNase-seq, ChIP-seq, and RNA-seq data to evaluate library quality, ultimately resulting in a modified ATAC-seq method capable of generating high quality chromatin accessibility data from cryopreserved nuclei preparations. Using this method, nucleosome-free regions (NFR) identified in chicken lung overlapped half of DNase-I hypersensitive sites, coincided with active histone modifications, and specifically marked actively expressed genes. Notably, sequencing only the subnucleosomal fraction dramatically improved signal, while separation of subnucleosomal reads post-sequencing did not improve signal or peak calling. The broader applicability of this modified ATAC-seq technique was tested using cryopreserved nuclei preparations from pig tissues, resulting in NFR that were highly consistent among biological replicates. Furthermore, tissue-specific NFR were enriched for binding motifs of transcription factors related to tissue-specific functions, and marked genes functionally enriched for tissue-specific processes. Overall, these results provide insights into the optimization of ATAC-seq and a platform for profiling open chromatin in animal tissues.

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