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Insights from resolving protein–DNA interactions at near base-pair resolution

Venters, Bryan J
Briefings in functional genomics 2017 v.17 no.2 pp. 80-88
DNA, DNA-directed RNA polymerase, chromatin, epigenetics, genes, genomics, messenger RNA, molecular biology, precipitin tests, transcription (genetics), transcription factors
One of the central goals in molecular biology is to understand how cell-type-specific expression patterns arise through selective recruitment of RNA polymerase II (Pol II) to a subset of gene promoters. Pol II needs to be recruited to a precise genomic position at the proper time to produce messenger RNA from a DNA template. Ostensibly, transcription is a relatively simple cellular process; yet, experimentally measuring and then understanding the combinatorial possibilities of transcriptional regulators remain a daunting task. Since its introduction in 1985, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) has remained a key tool for investigating protein–DNA contacts in vivo. Over 30 years of intensive research using ChIP have provided numerous insights into mechanisms of gene regulation. As functional genomic technologies improve, they present new opportunities to address key biological questions. ChIP-exo is a refined version of ChIP-seq that significantly reduces background signal, while providing near base-pair mapping resolution for protein–DNA interactions. This review discusses the evolution of the ChIP assay over the years; the methodological differences between ChIP-seq, ChIP-exo and ChIP-nexus; and highlight new insights into epigenetic and transcriptional mechanisms that were uniquely enabled with the near base-pair resolution of ChIP-exo.