ATAC-seq with unique molecular identifiers improves quantification and footprinting
ATAC-seq (Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin with high-throughput sequencing) provides an efficient way to analyze nucleosome-free regions and has been applied widely to identify transcription factor footprints. Both applications rely on the accurate quantification of insertion events of the hyperactive transposase Tn5. However, due to the presence of the PCR amplification, it is impossible to accurately distinguish independently generated identical Tn5 insertion events from PCR duplicates using the standard ATAC-seq technique. Removing PCR duplicates based on mapping coordinates introduces an increasing bias towards highly accessible chromatin regions. To overcome this limitation, we establish a UMI-ATAC-seq technique by incorporating unique molecular identifiers (UMIs) into standard ATAC-seq procedures. In our study, UMI-ATAC-seq can rescue about 20% of reads that are mistaken as PCR duplicates in standard ATAC-seq, which helps identify an additional 50% or more of footprints. We demonstrate that UMI-ATAC-seq could more accurately quantify chromatin accessibility and significantly improve the sensitivity of identifying transcription factor footprints. An analytic pipeline is developed to facilitate the application of UMI-ATAC-seq, and it is available at https://github.com/tzhu-bio/UMI-ATAC-seq. ### Competing Interest Statement W.X. has filed a provisional patent application on UMI-ATAC-seq. All other authors declare no competing interests.
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