Regulation of gene transcription is a complex process controlled by many factors, including the conformation of chromatin in the nucleus. Insights into chromatin conformation on both local and global scales can be provided by the Hi-C (high-throughput chromosomes conformation capture) method. One of the drawbacks of Hi-C analysis and interpretation is the presence of systematic biases, such as different accessibility to enzymes, amplification, and mappability of DNA regions, which all result in different visibility of the regions. Iterative correction (IC) is one of the most popular techniques developed for the elimination of these systematic biases. IC is based on the assumption that all chromatin regions have an equal number of observed contacts in Hi-C. In other words, the IC procedure is equalizing the experimental visibility approximated by the cumulative contact frequency (CCF) for all genomic regions. However, the differences in experimental visibility might be explained by biological factors such as chromatin openness, which is characteristic of distinct chromatin states. Here we show that CCF is positively correlated with active transcription. It is associated with compartment organization, since compartment A demonstrates higher CCF and gene expression levels than compartment B. Notably, this observation holds for a wide range of species, including human, mouse, and Drosophila. Moreover, we track the CCF state for syntenic blocks between human and mouse and conclude that active state assessed by CCF is an intrinsic property of the DNA region, which is independent of local genomic and epigenomic context. Our findings establish a missing link between Hi-C normalization procedures removing CCF from the data and poorly investigated and possibly relevant biological factors contributing to CCF.
- Conformation capture