The Reference Epigenome Mapping Centers (REMC) will aim to transform our understanding of human epigenetics through production and integrative analysis of comprehensive reference epigenomes for ES cells, differentiated cells and tissues. In pursuit of this goal, we have assembled a unique scientific team and infrastructure with broad expertise and capabilities in stem cell biology, epigenomics, technology, production research and computation. We recently demonstrated two complementary methods that leverage ultra high-throughput sequencing for epigenomic analysis. In the first method, genome-wide chromatin maps are acquired by deep sequencing chromatin IP DNA (ChlP-Seq). In the second, nucleotide-resolution DNA methylation maps are generated by high-throughput bisulfite-sequencing (HTBS). These methods represent major improvements over prior tools as they yield precise digital information, have high genome coverage, require fewer cells and are cost-effective. Multiple epigenomic maps have already been produced for stem cells and primary tissues, and pipelines have been assembled for efficient data collection, processing and analysis. For the REMC project, we propose to apply ChlP-Seq and HTBS pipelines to generate comprehensive high-resolution maps of chromatin state and DNA methylation for 100 diverse cell types. Cell types were selected for their biological and medical importance, and for their potential to maximize the comprehensiveness of acquired epigenomic data. They include human ES cells, ES-derived cells, mesenchymal stem cells, reprogrammed stem cells and primary tissues. ChlP-Seq will be used to map highly informative chromatin modifications and related chromatin proteins in each cell type. HTBS will be used to generate nucleotide-resolution DNA methylation maps. Reference epigenomes will reveal the locations and activation states of diverse functional genomic elements, inform on the developmental state and potential of studied cell populations, and provide a framework for understanding complex epigenetic regulatory mechanisms. All data will be made available to the scientific community upon verification.
Comprehensive characterization of epigenetic marks ('the epigenome') is a critical step towards a global understanding of the human genome in health and disease. The proposed mapping studies will provide unprecedented views of the human epigenetic landscape and its variation across cell states, offer fundamental insight into the functions and interrelationships of epigenetic marks, and provide a framework for future studies of normal and diseased epigenomes.
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