Dynamic chromatin structures result in differential chemical reactivity to mutational processes throughout the genome. To identify chromatin features responsible for mutagenesis, we compared chromatin architecture around single-nucleotide variants (SNV), insertion/deletions (indels) and their context-matched, non-mutated positions. We found epigenetic differences between genomic regions containing missense SNV and those containing frameshift indels across multiple cancer types. Levels active histone marks were higher around frameshift indels than around missense SNV, whereas repressive histone marks exhibited the reverse trend. Accumulation of repressive histone marks and nucleosomes distinguished mutated positions (both SNV and indels) from the context-matched, non-mutated positions, whereas active marks were associated with substitution- and cancer type-specific mutagenesis. We also explained mutagenesis based on genome maintenance mechanisms, including nucleotide excision repair (NER), mismatch repair (MMR), and DNA polymerase epsilon (POLE). Regional NER variation correlated strongly with chromatin features; NER machineries exhibited shifted or depleted binding around SNV, resulting in decreased NER at mutation positions, especially at sites of recurrent mutations. MMR-deficient tumors selectively acquired SNV in regions with high active histone marks, especially H3K36me3, whereas POLE-deficient tumors selectively acquired indels and SNV in regions with low active histone marks. These findings demonstrate the importance of fine-scaled chromatin structures and associated DNA repair mechanisms in mutagenesis.
- Received November 6, 2016.
- Revision received March 9, 2017.
- Accepted March 31, 2017.
- Copyright ©2017, American Association for Cancer Research.