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Systematic mapping of functional enhancer-promoter connections with CRISPR interference

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Science  29 Sep 2016:
aag2445
DOI: 10.1126/science.aag2445

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Abstract

Gene expression in mammals is regulated by noncoding elements that can impact physiology and disease, yet the functions and target genes of most noncoding elements remain unknown. We present a high-throughput approach that uses CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) to discover regulatory elements and identify their target genes. We assess >1 megabase (Mb) of sequence in the vicinity of 2 essential transcription factors, MYC and GATA1, and identify 9 distal enhancers that control gene expression and cellular proliferation. Quantitative features of chromatin state and chromosome conformation distinguish the 7 enhancers that regulate MYC from other elements that do not, suggesting a strategy for predicting enhancer-promoter connectivity. This CRISPRi-based approach can be applied to dissect transcriptional networks and interpret the contributions of noncoding genetic variation to human disease.

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