Deoxyribonuclease I (DNase I)-hypersensitive site sequencing (DNase-seq) has been widely used to determine chromatin accessibility and its underlying regulatory lexicon. However, exploring DNase-seq data requires sophisticated downstream bioinformatics analyses. In this study, we first review computational methods for all of the major steps in DNase-seq data analysis, including experimental design, quality control, read alignment, peak calling, annotation of cis-regulatory elements, genomic footprinting and visualization. The challenges associated with each step are highlighted. Next, we provide a practical guideline and a computational pipeline for DNase-seq data analysis by integrating some of these tools. We also discuss the competing techniques and the potential applications of this pipeline for the analysis of analogous experimental data. Finally, we discuss the integration of DNase-seq with other functional genomics techniques.
School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University
Nanjing 210023, China