The impact of endogenous retroviruses on nuclear organization and gene expression
Background: The organization of chromatin in the nucleus plays an essential role in gene regulation. When considering the mammalian genome it is important to take into account that about half of the DNA is comprised of transposable elements. Given their repetitive nature, reads associated with these elements are generally discarded or randomly distributed among elements of the same type in genome-wide analyses. Thus, it is challenging to identify the activities and properties of individual transposons. As a result, we only have a partial understanding of how transposons contribute to chromatin folding and how they impact gene regulation. Results: Using adapted PCR and Capture-based chromosome conformation capture (3C) approaches, collectively called 4Tran, we take advantage of the repetitive nature of transposons to capture interactions from multiple copies of endogenous retrovirus (ERVs) in the human and mouse genomes. With 4Tran-PCR, reads are selectively mapped to unique regions in the genome. This enables the identification of TE interaction profiles for individual ERV families and integration events specific to particular genomes. With this approach we demonstrate that transposons engage in long-range intra-chromosomal interactions guided by the separation of chromosomes into A and B compartments as well as topologically associated domains (TADs). In contrast to 4Tran-PCR, Capture-4Tran can uniquely identify both ends of an interaction that involve retroviral repeat sequences, providing a powerful tool for uncovering the individual TE insertions that interact with, and potentially regulate target genes. Conclusions: 4Tran provides new insight into the manner in which transposons contribute to chromosome architecture and identifies target genes that transposable elements can potentially control.
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