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Detection and characterization of regulatory elements using probabilistic conditional random field and hidden Markov models

DOI: 10.5732/cjc.012.10112

Keywords: Epigenetics , histone modification , conditional random field , regulatory elements

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By altering the electrostatic charge of histones or providing binding sites to protein recognition mole-cules, Chromatin marks have been proposed to regulate gene expression, a property that has motivated researchers to link these marks to cis-regulatory elements. With the help of next generation sequencing technologies, we can now correlate one specific chromatin mark with regulatory elements (e.g. enhancers or promoters) and also build tools, such as hidden Markov models, to gain insight into mark combinations. However, hidden Markov models have limitation for their character of generative models and assume that a current observation depends only on a current hidden state in the chain. Here, we employed two graphical probabilistic models, namely the linear conditional random field model and multivariate hidden Markov model, to mark gene regions with different states based on recurrent and spatially coherent character of these eight marks. Both models revealed chromatin states that may correspond to enhancers and promoters, transcribed regions, transcriptional elongation, and low-signal regions. We also found that the linear conditional random field model was more effective than the hidden Markov model in recognizing regulatory elements, such as promoter-, enhancer-, and transcriptional elongation-associated regions, which gives us a better choice.


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