Extracting physical characteristics of higher-order chromatin structures from 3D image data.
IF: 6.155


Higher-order chromatin structures have functional impacts on gene regulation and cell identity determination. Using high-throughput sequencing (HTS)-based methods like Hi-C, active or inactive compartments and open or closed topologically associating domain (TAD) structures can be identified on a cell population level. Recently developed high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) molecular imaging techniques such as 3D electron microscopy with in situ hybridization (3D-EMSIH) and 3D structured illumination microscopy (3D-SIM) enable direct detection of physical representations of chromatin structures in a single cell. However, computational analysis of 3D image data with explainability and interpretability on functional characteristics of chromatin structures is still challenging. We developed Extracting Physical-Characteristics from Images of Chromatin Structures (EPICS), a machine-learning based computational method for processing high-resolution chromatin 3D image data. Using EPICS on images produced by 3D-EMISH or 3D-SIM techniques, we generated more direct 3D representations of higher-order chromatin structures, identified major chromatin domains, and determined the open or closed status of each domain. We identified several high-contributing features from the model as the major physical characteristics that define the open or closed chromatin domains, demonstrating the explainability and interpretability of EPICS. EPICS can be applied to the analysis of other high-resolution 3D molecular imaging data for spatial genomics studies. The R and Python codes of EPICS are available at https://github.com/zang-lab/epics.


Spatial Transcriptomics
10X Visium
Spatial Genomics
3D super-resolution imaging
Chromatin structure
Physical characteristics
Spatial genomics


Lamberti, William Franz
Zang, Chongzhi