Dynamics of chromatin accessibility and long-range interactions in response to glucocorticoid pulsing
Although physiological steroid levels are often pulsatile (ultradian), the genomic effects of this pulsatility are poorly understood. By utilizing glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling as a model system, we uncovered striking spatiotemporal relationships between receptor loading, lifetimes of the DNase I hypersensitivity sites (DHSs), long-range interactions, and gene regulation. We found that hormone-induced DHSs were enriched within ±50 kb of GR-responsive genes and displayed a broad spectrum of lifetimes upon hormone withdrawal. These lifetimes dictate the strength of the DHS interactions with gene targets and contribute to gene regulation from a distance. Our results demonstrate that pulsatile and constant hormone stimulations induce unique, treatment-specific patterns of gene and regulatory element activation. These modes of activation have implications for corticosteroid function in vivo and for steroid therapies in various clinical settings.