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In Methods (San Diego, Calif.) ; h5-index 0.0

The development of chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with massively parallel DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) technologies has promoted generation of large-scale epigenomics data, providing us unprecedented opportunities to explore the landscape of epigenomic profiles at scales across both histone marks and tissue types. In addition to many tools directly for data analysis, advanced computational approaches, such as deep learning, have recently become promising to deeply mine the data structures and identify important regulators from complex functional genomics data. We implemented a neural network framework, a Variational Auto-Encoder (VAE) model, to explore the epigenomic data from the Roadmap Epigenomics Project and the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project. Our model is applied to 935 reference samples, covering 28 tissues and 12 histone marks. We used the enhancer and promoter regions as the annotation features and ChIP-seq signal values in these regions as the feature values. Through a parameter sweep process, we identified the suitable hyperparameter values and built a VAE model to represent the epigenomics data and to further explore the biological regulation. The resultant Roadmap-ENCODE VAE (RE-VAE) model contained data compression and feature representation. Using the compressed data in the latent space, we found that the majority of histone marks were well clustered but not for tissues or cell types. Tissue or cell specificity was observed only in some histone marks (e.g., H3K4me3 and H3K27ac) and could be characterized when the number of tissue samples is large (e.g., blood and brain). In blood, the contributive regions and genes identified by RE-VAE model were confirmed by tissue-specificity enrichment analysis with an independent tissue expression panel. Finally, we demonstrated that RE-VAE model could detect cancer cell lines with similar epigenomics profiles. In conclusion, we introduced and implemented a VAE model to represent large-scale epigenomics data. The model could be used to explore classifications of histone modifications and tissue/cell specificity and to classify new data with unknown sources.

Hu Ruifeng, Pei Guangsheng, Jia Peilin, Zhao Zhongming


Epigenomic, Histone mark, Roadmap Epigenomics, Tissue specificity, Variational Auto-Encoder