Reconstructing high-resolution chromosome three-dimensional structures by Hi-C complex networks

Tong Liu, Zheng Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Hi-C data have been widely used to reconstruct chromosomal three-dimensional (3D) structures. One of the key limitations of Hi-C is the unclear relationship between spatial distance and the number of Hi-C contacts. Many methods used a fixed parameter when converting the number of Hi-C contacts to wish distances. However, a single parameter cannot properly explain the relationship between wish distances and genomic distances or the locations of topologically associating domains (TADs). Results: We have addressed one of the key issues of using Hi-C data, that is, the unclear relationship between spatial distances and the number of Hi-C contacts, which is crucial to understand significant biological functions, such as the enhancer-promoter interactions. Specifically, we developed a new method to infer this converting parameter and pairwise Euclidean distances based on the topology of the Hi-C complex network (HiCNet). The inferred distances were modeled by clustering coefficient and multiple other types of constraints. We found that our inferred distances between bead-pairs within the same TAD were apparently smaller than those distances between bead-pairs from different TADs. Our inferred distances had a higher correlation with fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) data, fitted the localization patterns of Xist transcripts on DNA, and better matched 156 pairs of protein-enabled long-range chromatin interactions detected by ChIA-PET. Using the inferred distances and another round of optimization, we further reconstructed 40 kb high-resolution 3D chromosomal structures of mouse male ES cells. The high-resolution structures successfully illustrate TADs and DNA loops (peaks in Hi-C contact heatmaps) that usually indicate enhancer-promoter interactions. Conclusions: We developed a novel method to infer the wish distances between DNA bead-pairs from Hi-C contacts. High-resolution 3D structures of chromosomes were built based on the newly-inferred wish distances. This whole process has been implemented as a tool named HiCNet, which is publicly available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number496
JournalBMC Bioinformatics
StatePublished - Dec 28 2018


  • Chromosomal three-dimensional structure
  • Converting parameter
  • Hi-C complex network
  • Small-world network
  • Topologically associating domain
  • Wish distance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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