Dataset Open Access
Genomic DNA is packed by histone proteins that carry a multitude of post-translational modifications that reflect cellular transcriptional state. Cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is derived from fragmented chromatin in dying cells, and as such it retains the histones markings present in the cells of origin. Here, we pioneer chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing of cell-free nucleosomes (cfChIP-seq) carrying active chromatin marks. Our results show that cfChIP-seq provides multidimensional epigenetic information that recapitulates the epigenetic and transcriptional landscape in the cells of origin. We applied cfChIP-seq to 268 samples including samples from patients with heart and liver pathologies, and 135 samples from 56 metastatic CRC patients. We show that cfChIP-seq can detect pathology-related transcriptional changes at the site of the disease, beyond the information on tissue of origin. In CRC patients we detect clinically-relevant, and patient-specific information, including transcriptionally active HER2 amplifications. cfChIP-seq provides genome-wide information and requires low sequencing depth. Altogether, we establish cell-free chromatin immunoprecipitation as an exciting modality with potential for diagnosis and interrogation of physiological and pathological processes using a simple blood test.