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Nov 24, 2014
Nature Genetics Add nature.com free-link Cancel
Despite the conventional distinction between them, promoters and enhancers share many features in mammals, including divergent transcription and similar modes of transcription factor binding. Here we examine the architecture of transcription initiation through comprehensive mapping of transcription start sites (TSSs) in human lymphoblastoid B cell (GM12878) and chronic myelogenous leukemic (K562) ENCODE Tier 1 cell lines. Using a nuclear run-on protocol called GRO-cap, which captures TSSs for both stable and unstable transcripts, we conduct detailed comparisons of thousands of promoters and enhancers in human cells. These analyses identify a common architecture of initiation, including tightly spaced (110 bp apart) divergent initiation, similar frequencies of core promoter sequence elements, highly positioned flanking nucleosomes and two modes of transcription factor binding. Post-initiation transcript stability provides a more fundamental distinction between promoters and enhancers than patterns of histone modification and association of transcription factors or co-activators. These results support a unified model of transcription initiation at promoters and enhancers.

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