UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology; UMass Metabolic Network

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Bioinformatics | Computational Biology | Genomics


BACKGROUND: ATAC-seq (Assays for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin using sequencing) is a recently developed technique for genome-wide analysis of chromatin accessibility. Compared to earlier methods for assaying chromatin accessibility, ATAC-seq is faster and easier to perform, does not require cross-linking, has higher signal to noise ratio, and can be performed on small cell numbers. However, to ensure a successful ATAC-seq experiment, step-by-step quality assurance processes, including both wet lab quality control and in silico quality assessment, are essential. While several tools have been developed or adopted for assessing read quality, identifying nucleosome occupancy and accessible regions from ATAC-seq data, none of the tools provide a comprehensive set of functionalities for preprocessing and quality assessment of aligned ATAC-seq datasets.

RESULTS: We have developed a Bioconductor package, ATACseqQC, for easily generating various diagnostic plots to help researchers quickly assess the quality of their ATAC-seq data. In addition, this package contains functions to preprocess aligned ATAC-seq data for subsequent peak calling. Here we demonstrate the utilities of our package using 25 publicly available ATAC-seq datasets from four studies. We also provide guidelines on what the diagnostic plots should look like for an ideal ATAC-seq dataset.

CONCLUSIONS: This software package has been used successfully for preprocessing and assessing several in-house and public ATAC-seq datasets. Diagnostic plots generated by this package will facilitate the quality assessment of ATAC-seq data, and help researchers to evaluate their own ATAC-seq experiments as well as select high-quality ATAC-seq datasets from public repositories such as GEO to avoid generating hypotheses or drawing conclusions from low-quality ATAC-seq experiments. The software, source code, and documentation are freely available as a Bioconductor package at .


ATAC-seq, ATACseqQC, Chromatin accessibility, Quality control

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© The Author(s). 2018. Open Access: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

DOI of Published Version



BMC Genomics. 2018 Mar 1;19(1):169. doi: 10.1186/s12864-018-4559-3. Link to article on publisher's site

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BMC genomics

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.