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Single nucleus analysis of the chromatin landscape in mouse forebrain development

By Sebastian Preissl, Rongxin Fang, Yuan Zhao, Ramya Raviram, Yanxiao Zhang, Brandon C. Sos, Hui Huang, David U. Gorkin, Sarah Y. Afzal, Diane E. Dickel, Samantha Kuan, Axel Visel, Len A. Pennacchio, Kun Zhang, Bing Ren

Posted 04 Jul 2017
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/159137 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41593-018-0079-3)

Genome-wide analysis of chromatin accessibility in primary tissues has uncovered millions of candidate regulatory sequences in the human and mouse genomes. However, the heterogeneity of biological samples used in previous studies has prevented a precise understanding of the dynamic chromatin landscape in specific cell types. Here, we show that analysis of the transposase-accessible-chromatin in single nuclei isolated from frozen tissue samples can resolve cellular heterogeneity and delineate transcriptional regulatory sequences in the constituent cell types. Our strategy is based on a combinatorial barcoding assisted single cell assay for transposase-accessible chromatin and is optimized for nuclei from flash-frozen primary tissue samples (snATAC-seq). We used this method to examine the mouse forebrain at seven development stages and in adults. From snATAC-seq profiles of more than 15,000 high quality nuclei, we identify 20 distinct cell populations corresponding to major neuronal and non-neuronal cell-types in foetal and adult forebrains. We further define cell-type specific cis regulatory sequences and infer potential master transcriptional regulators of each cell population. Our results demonstrate the feasibility of a general approach for identifying cell-type-specific cis regulatory sequences in heterogeneous tissue samples, and provide a rich resource for understanding forebrain development in mammals.

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