Rod photoreceptors are specialized neurons that mediate vision in dim light and are the predominant photoreceptor type in nocturnal mammals. The rods of nocturnal mammals are unique among vertebrate cell types in having an â € inverted' nuclear architecture, with a dense mass of heterochromatin in the center of the nucleus rather than dispersed clumps at the periphery. To test if this unique nuclear architecture is correlated with a unique epigenomic landscape, we performed ATAC-seq on mouse rods and their most closely related cell type, cone photoreceptors. We find that thousands of loci are selectively closed in rods relative to cones as well as >60 additional cell types. Furthermore, we find that the open chromatin profile of photoreceptors lacking the rod master regulator Nrl is nearly indistinguishable from that of native cones, indicating that Nrl is required for selective chromatin closure in rods. Finally, we identified distinct enrichments of transcription factor binding sites in rods and cones, revealing key differences in the cis-regulatory grammar of these cell types. Taken together, these data provide insight into the development and maintenance of photoreceptor identity, and highlight rods as an attractive system for studying the relationship between nuclear organization and local changes in gene regulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number43184
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Mar 3 2017


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