Transcriptional control is exerted primarily through the binding of transcription factor proteins to regulatory elements in DNA. By virtue of eukaryotic DNA being complexed with histones, transcription factor binding to DNA alters or eliminates histone-DNA contacts, leading to increased accessibility of the DNA region to nuclease enzymes. This hypersensitivity to nuclease digestion has been used to define DNA binding events and regulatory elements across genomes, and to compare these attributes between cell types or conditions. These approaches make it possible to define the regulatory elements in a genome as well as to predict the regulatory networks of transcription factors and their target genes in a given cell state. As these chromatin accessibility assays are increasingly used, it is important to consider how to analyze the resulting data to avoid artifactual results or misinterpretation. In this review, we focus on some of the key technical and computational caveats associated with plant chromatin accessibility data, including strategies for sample preparation, sequencing, read mapping, and downstream analyses.
Published by Elsevier Ltd.