Downstream Antisense Transcription Predicts Genomic Features That Define the Specific Chromatin Environment at Mammalian Promoters.

Lavender CA, Cannady KR, Hoffman JA, Trotter KW, Gilchrist DA, Bennett BD, Burkholder AB, Burd CJ, Fargo DC, Archer TK
PLoS Genet 12 e1006224 01/01/2016

Abstract

Antisense transcription is a prevalent feature at mammalian promoters. Previous studies have primarily focused on antisense transcription initiating upstream of genes. Here, we characterize promoter-proximal antisense transcription downstream of gene transcription starts sites in human breast cancer cells, investigating the genomic context of downstream antisense transcription. We find extensive correlations between antisense transcription and features associated with the chromatin environment at gene promoters. Antisense transcription downstream of promoters is widespread, with antisense transcription initiation observed within 2 kb of 28% of gene transcription start sites. Antisense transcription initiates between nucleosomes regularly positioned downstream of these promoters. The nucleosomes between gene and downstream antisense transcription start sites carry histone modifications associated with active promoters, such as H3K4me3 and H3K27ac. This region is bound by chromatin remodeling and histone modifying complexes including SWI/SNF subunits and HDACs, suggesting that antisense transcription or resulting RNA transcripts contribute to the creation and maintenance of a promoter-associated chromatin environment. Downstream antisense transcription overlays additional regulatory features, such as transcription factor binding, DNA accessibility, and the downstream edge of promoter-associated CpG islands. These features suggest an important role for antisense transcription in the regulation of gene expression and the maintenance of a promoter-associated chromatin environment.

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