Isolation of active regulatory elements from eukaryotic chromatin using FAIRE (Formaldehyde Assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements).

Giresi PG, Lieb JD

The binding of sequence-specific regulatory factors and the recruitment of chromatin remodeling activities cause nucleosomes to be evicted from chromatin in eukaryotic cells. Traditionally, these active sites have been identified experimentally through their sensitivity to nucleases. Here we describe the details of a simple procedure for the genome-wide isolation of nucleosome-depleted DNA from human chromatin, termed FAIRE (Formaldehyde Assisted Isolation of Regulatory Elements). We also provide protocols for different methods of detecting FAIRE-enriched DNA, including use of PCR, DNA microarrays, and next-generation sequencing. FAIRE works on all eukaryotic chromatin tested to date. To perform FAIRE, chromatin is crosslinked with formaldehyde, sheared by sonication, and phenol-chloroform extracted. Most genomic DNA is crosslinked to nucleosomes and is sequestered to the interphase, whereas DNA recovered in the aqueous phase corresponds to nucleosome-depleted regions of the genome. The isolated regions are largely coincident with the location of DNaseI hypersensitive sites, transcriptional start sites, enhancers, insulators, and active promoters. Given its speed and simplicity, FAIRE has utility in establishing chromatin profiles of diverse cell types in health and disease, isolating DNA regulatory elements en masse for further characterization, and as a screening assay for the effects of small molecules on chromatin organization.

Chromatin Shearing

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July, 2009



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