Transcriptional landscape of the human cell cycle

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Mar 28;114(13):3473-3478. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1617636114. Epub 2017 Mar 13.


Steady-state gene expression across the cell cycle has been studied extensively. However, transcriptional gene regulation and the dynamics of histone modification at different cell-cycle stages are largely unknown. By applying a combination of global nuclear run-on sequencing (GRO-seq), RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), and histone-modification Chip sequencing (ChIP-seq), we depicted a comprehensive transcriptional landscape at the G0/G1, G1/S, and M phases of breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Importantly, GRO-seq and RNA-seq analysis identified different cell-cycle-regulated genes, suggesting a lag between transcription and steady-state expression during the cell cycle. Interestingly, we identified genes actively transcribed at early M phase that are longer in length and have low expression and are accompanied by a global increase in active histone 3 lysine 4 methylation (H3K4me2) and histone 3 lysine 27 acetylation (H3K27ac) modifications. In addition, we identified 2,440 cell-cycle-regulated enhancer RNAs (eRNAs) that are strongly associated with differential active transcription but not with stable expression levels across the cell cycle. Motif analysis of dynamic eRNAs predicted Kruppel-like factor 4 (KLF4) as a key regulator of G1/S transition, and this identification was validated experimentally. Taken together, our combined analysis characterized the transcriptional and histone-modification profile of the human cell cycle and identified dynamic transcriptional signatures across the cell cycle.

Keywords: GRO-seq; cell cycle; epigenetics; nascent RNA; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle*
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Histones / genetics
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Histones