Computational Inference of Genome-Wide Protein-DNA Interactions Using High-Throughput Genomic Data
Transcriptional regulation has been studied intensively in recent decades. One important aspect of this regulation is the interaction between regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors (TF) and nucleosomes, and the genome. Different high-throughput techniques have been invented to map these interactions genome-wide, including ChIP-based methods (ChIP-chip, ChIP-seq, etc.), nuclease digestion methods (DNase-seq, MNase-seq, etc.), and others. However, a single experimental technique often only provides partial and noisy information about the whole picture of protein-DNA interactions. Therefore, the overarching goal of this dissertation is to provide computational developments for jointly modeling different experimental datasets to achieve a holistic inference on the protein-DNA interaction landscape.
We first present a computational framework that can incorporate the protein binding information in MNase-seq data into a thermodynamic model of protein-DNA interaction. We use a correlation-based objective function to model the MNase-seq data and a Markov chain Monte Carlo method to maximize the function. Our results show that the inferred protein-DNA interaction landscape is concordant with the MNase-seq data and provides a mechanistic explanation for the experimentally collected MNase-seq fragments. Our framework is flexible and can easily incorporate other data sources. To demonstrate this flexibility, we use prior distributions to integrate experimentally measured protein concentrations.
We also study the ability of DNase-seq data to position nucleosomes. Traditionally, DNase-seq has only been widely used to identify DNase hypersensitive sites, which tend to be open chromatin regulatory regions devoid of nucleosomes. We reveal for the first time that DNase-seq datasets also contain substantial information about nucleosome translational positioning, and that existing DNase-seq data can be used to infer nucleosome positions with high accuracy. We develop a Bayes-factor-based nucleosome scoring method to position nucleosomes using DNase-seq data. Our approach utilizes several effective strategies to extract nucleosome positioning signals from the noisy DNase-seq data, including jointly modeling data points across the nucleosome body and explicitly modeling the quadratic and oscillatory DNase I digestion pattern on nucleosomes. We show that our DNase-seq-based nucleosome map is highly consistent with previous high-resolution maps. We also show that the oscillatory DNase I digestion pattern is useful in revealing the nucleosome rotational context around TF binding sites.
Finally, we present a state-space model (SSM) for jointly modeling different kinds of genomic data to provide an accurate view of the protein-DNA interaction landscape. We also provide an efficient expectation-maximization algorithm to learn model parameters from data. We first show in simulation studies that the SSM can effectively recover underlying true protein binding configurations. We then apply the SSM to model real genomic data (both DNase-seq and MNase-seq data). Through incrementally increasing the types of genomic data in the SSM, we show that different data types can contribute complementary information for the inference of protein binding landscape and that the most accurate inference comes from modeling all available datasets.
This dissertation provides a foundation for future research by taking a step toward the genome-wide inference of protein-DNA interaction landscape through data integration.
Genomic data integration
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