Systematic identification of silencers in human cells.
Nature genetics. 2020 Mar;52(3):254-263.
- The majority of the human genome does not encode proteins. Many of these noncoding regions contain important regulatory sequences that control gene expression. To date, most studies have focused on activators such as enhancers, but regions that repress gene expression-silencers-have not been systematically studied. We have developed a system that identifies silencer regions in a genome-wide fashion on the basis of silencer-mediated transcriptional repression of caspase 9. We found that silencers are widely distributed and may function in a tissue-specific fashion. These silencers harbor unique epigenetic signatures and are associated with specific transcription factors. Silencers also act at multiple genes, and at the level of chromosomal domains and long-range interactions. Deletion of silencer regions linked to the drug transporter genes ABCC2 and ABCG2 caused chemo-resistance. Overall, our study demonstrates that tissue-specific silencing is widespread throughout the human genome and probably contributes substantially to the regulation of gene expression and human biology.