Epigenetic mechanisms such as histone modifications play critical roles in adaptive tuning of chromatin structures. Profiling of various histone modifications at the genome scale using tissues from animal and human samples is an important step for functional studies of epigenomes and epigenomics-based precision medicine. Because the profile of a histone mark is highly specific to a cell type, cell isolation from tissues is often necessary to generate a homogeneous cell population, and such operations tend to yield a low number of cells. In addition, high-throughput processing is often desirable because of the multiplexity of histone marks of interest and the large quantity of samples in a hospital setting. In this protocol, we provide detailed instructions for device fabrication, setup, and operation of microfluidic oscillatory washing–based chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (MOWChIP-seq) for profiling of histone modifications using as few as 100 cells per assay with a throughput as high as eight assays in one run. MOWChIP-seq operation involves flowing of chromatin fragments through a packed bed of antibody-coated beads, followed by vigorous microfluidic oscillatory washing. Our process is semi-automated to reduce labor and improve reproducibility. Using one eight-unit device, it takes 2 d to produce eight sequencing libraries from chromatin samples. The technology is scalable. We used the protocol to study a number of histone modifications in various types of mouse and human tissues. The protocol can be conducted by a user who is familiar with molecular biology procedures and has basic engineering skills.
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A custom script is included as Supplementary Data 4.
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We thank J. González-Maeso of Virginia Commonwealth University for providing mouse brain samples. This work was supported by US National Institutes of Health grants CA214176 (C.L.), EB017235 (C.L.), HG009256 (C.L.) and HG008623 (C.L.) and seed grants from the Center for Engineered Health of the Virginia Tech Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science.
C.L. declares that he is a co-inventor of a US patent (9,732,377) issued on MOWChIP-seq. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information Nature Protocols thanks Jeong Heon Lee and other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Key references using this protocol
Cao, Z., Chen, C., He, B., Tan, K. & Lu, C. Nat. Methods 12, 959–962 (2015) https://doi.org/10.1038/nmeth.3488
Cox, M., Deng, C., Naler, L. B., Lu, C. & Verbridge, S. S. ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 5, 1544–1552 (2019) https://doi.org/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.9b00161
Integrated supplementary information
Supplementary Fig. 1
A LabVIEW program for operating the single-unit MOWChIP device.
A LabVIEW program for operating the eight-unit MOWChIP device.
A LayoutEditor file for the eight-unit MOWChIP device.
A custom script for ChIP-seq data analysis.
A video on major steps involved in MOWChIP.
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Zhu, B., Hsieh, YP., Murphy, T.W. et al. MOWChIP-seq for low-input and multiplexed profiling of genome-wide histone modifications. Nat Protoc 14, 3366–3394 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41596-019-0223-x
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