ATAC-seq identifies thousands of extrachromosomal circular DNA in cancer and cell lines

Sci Adv. 2020 May 15;6(20):eaba2489. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aba2489. eCollection 2020 May.


Extrachromosomal circular DNAs (eccDNAs) are somatically mosaic and contribute to intercellular heterogeneity in normal and tumor cells. Because short eccDNAs are poorly chromatinized, we hypothesized that they are sequenced by tagmentation in ATAC-seq experiments without any enrichment of circular DNA. Indeed, ATAC-seq identified thousands of eccDNAs in cell lines that were validated by inverse PCR and by metaphase FISH. ATAC-seq in gliomas and glioblastomas identify hundreds of eccDNAs, including one containing the well-known EGFR gene amplicon from chr7. More than 18,000 eccDNAs, many carrying known cancer driver genes, are identified in a pan-cancer analysis of ATAC-seq libraries from 23 tumor types. Somatically mosaic eccDNAs are identified by ATAC-seq even before amplification is recognized by genome-wide copy number variation measurements. Thus, ATAC-seq is a sensitive method to detect eccDNA present in a tumor at the pre-amplification stage and can be used to predict resistance to therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Sequencing*
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • DNA, Circular / genetics
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms*


  • DNA, Circular
  • DNA