In this week's Nature, researchers from the FANTOM consortium present two atlases of regions of the genome that control and enhance gene expression. In the first paper, scientists map transcription start sites and their usage in human and mouse primary cells, cell lines, and tissues as part of an effort to better understand transcriptional regulatory networks. In the second report, investigators identify more than 40,000 enhancer candidates from some 800 human cell and tissue samples. The resultant resource offers the ability to compare regulatory programs across different cell types and identify disease-associated regions of genetic sequence variation, researchers say.
Meanwhile, in Nature Methods, investigators from New York University School of Medicine report on the details of a new high-throughput functional assay for directly identifying active promoter enhancer elements. Called FIREWACh — short for Functional identification of Regulatory Elements Within Accessible Chromatin — the technology was used to simultaneously assess over 80,000 DNA fragments derived from nucleosome-free regions within the chromatin of embryonic stem cells and identify 6,364 active regulatory elements. The assay is expected to help functional annotation of the genome and improve the understanding of transcriptional network dynamics.