Minnoye L, Taskiran II, Mauduit D, Fazio M, Van Aerschot L, Hulselmans G, Christiaens V, Makhzami S, Seltenhammer M, Karras P, Primot A, Cadieu E, van Rooijen E, Marine JC, Egidy G, Ghanem GE, Zon L, Wouters J, Aerts S. 2020. Cross-species analysis of enhancer logic using deep learning. Genome research. 30(12):1815-1834. Pubmed: 32732264 DOI:10.1101/gr.260844.120


Deciphering the genomic regulatory code of enhancers is a key challenge in biology because this code underlies cellular identity. A better understanding of how enhancers work will improve the interpretation of noncoding genome variation and empower the generation of cell type-specific drivers for gene therapy. Here, we explore the combination of deep learning and cross-species chromatin accessibility profiling to build explainable enhancer models. We apply this strategy to decipher the enhancer code in melanoma, a relevant case study owing to the presence of distinct melanoma cell states. We trained and validated a deep learning model, called DeepMEL, using chromatin accessibility data of 26 melanoma samples across six different species. We show the accuracy of DeepMEL predictions on the CAGI5 challenge, where it significantly outperforms existing models on the melanoma enhancer of Next, we exploit DeepMEL to analyze enhancer architectures and identify accurate transcription factor binding sites for the core regulatory complexes in the two different melanoma states, with distinct roles for each transcription factor, in terms of nucleosome displacement or enhancer activation. Finally, DeepMEL identifies orthologous enhancers across distantly related species, where sequence alignment fails, and the model highlights specific nucleotide substitutions that underlie enhancer turnover. DeepMEL can be used from the Kipoi database to predict and optimize candidate enhancers and to prioritize enhancer mutations. In addition, our computational strategy can be applied to other cancer or normal cell types.
© 2020 Minnoye et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

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The Zon laboratory aims to dissect how assaults to the hematopoietic system cause severe diseases such as leukemias, lymphomas, and anemias. They investigate hematopoietic development and disease using chemical screens, genetic screens, and analysis of novel transgenic lines in zebrafish.

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