Genome Res. 2023 Sep 12. doi: 10.1101/gr.277397.122. Online ahead of print.
Three-dimensional (3D) chromatin structure has been shown to play a role in regulating gene transcription during biological transitions. Although our understanding of loop formation and maintenance is rapidly improving, much less is known about the mechanisms driving changes in looping and the impact of differential looping on gene transcription. One limitation has been a lack of well-powered differential looping data sets. To address this, we conducted a deeply sequenced Hi-C time course of megakaryocyte development comprising four biological replicates and 6 billion reads per time point. Statistical analysis revealed 1503 differential loops. Gained loop anchors were enriched for AP-1 occupancy and were characterized by large increases in histone H3K27ac (over 11-fold) but relatively small increases in CTCF and RAD21 binding (1.26- and 1.23-fold, respectively). Linear modeling revealed that changes in histone H3K27ac, chromatin accessibility, and JUN binding were better correlated with changes in looping than RAD21 and almost as well correlated as CTCF. Changes to epigenetic features between-rather than at-boundaries were highly predictive of changes in looping. Together these data suggest that although CTCF and RAD21 may be the core machinery dictating where loops form, other features (both at the anchors and within the loop boundaries) may play a larger role than previously anticipated in determining the relative loop strength across cell types and conditions.