Quillien, A., Abdalla, M., Yu, J., Ou, J., Zhu, L.J., Lawson, N.D. (2017) Robust Identification of Developmentally Active Endothelial Enhancers in Zebrafish Using FANS-Assisted ATAC-Seq. Cell Reports. 20:709-720.
Identification of tissue-specific and developmentally active enhancers provides insights into mechanisms that control gene expression during embryogenesis. However, robust detection of these regulatory elements remains challenging, especially in vertebrate genomes. Here, we apply fluorescent-activated nuclei sorting (FANS) followed by Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin with high-throughput sequencing (ATAC-seq) to identify developmentally active endothelial enhancers in the zebrafish genome. ATAC-seq of nuclei from Tg(fli1a:egfp)(y1) transgenic embryos revealed expected patterns of nucleosomal positioning at transcriptional start sites throughout the genome and association with active histone modifications. Comparison of ATAC-seq from GFP-positive and -negative nuclei identified more than 5,000 open elements specific to endothelial cells. These elements flanked genes functionally important for vascular development and that displayed endothelial-specific gene expression. Importantly, a majority of tested elements drove endothelial gene expression in zebrafish embryos. Thus, FANS-assisted ATAC-seq using transgenic zebrafish embryos provides a robust approach for genome-wide identification of active tissue-specific enhancer elements.