Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq) is the most popular assay to identify genomic regions, called ChIP-seq peaks, that are bound in vivo by transcription factors (TFs). These regions are derived from direct TF-DNA interactions, indirect binding of the TF to the DNA (through a co-binding partner), nonspecific binding to the DNA, and noise/bias/artifacts. Delineating the bona fide direct TF-DNA interactions within the ChIP-seq peaks remains challenging. We developed a dedicated software, ChIP-eat, that combines computational TF binding models and ChIP-seq peaks to automatically predict direct TF-DNA interactions. Our work culminated with predicted interactions covering >4% of the human genome, obtained by uniformly processing 1983 ChIP-seq peak data sets from the ReMap database for 232 unique TFs. The predictions were a posteriori assessed using protein binding microarray and ChIP-exo data, and were predominantly found in high quality ChIP-seq peaks. The set of predicted direct TF-DNA interactions suggested that high-occupancy target regions are likely not derived from direct binding of the TFs to the DNA. Our predictions derived co-binding TFs supported by protein-protein interaction data and defined cis-regulatory modules enriched for disease- and trait-associated SNPs. We provide this collection of direct TF-DNA interactions and cis-regulatory modules through the UniBind web-interface (http://unibind.uio.no).
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.