Background The autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has a modified epigenome with modified tri-methylation of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me3) at specific loci across the genome. H3K4me3 to H3K36me3, a transcriptional elongation mark, is often found. The Acitazanolast H3K4me3 pattern was strongly associated with transcription in SLE. Genes with narrow peaks were less likely (OR?=?0.14, p?=?2??10?4) while genes with extended downstream H3K4me3 were more likely (OR?=?2.37, p?=?1??10?11) to be overexpressed in SLE. Of the genes significantly overexpressed in SLE, 78.8?% had increased downstream H3K4me3 while only 47.1?% had increased upstream H3K4me3. Gene transcription sensitively and consistently responded to H3K4me3 change downstream of TSSs. Every 1?% increase of H3K4me3 in this region leads to ~1.5?% average increase of transcription. Conclusions We identified the immediate TSS downstream nucleosome as a crucial Acitazanolast regulator Ankrd1 responsible for transcription changes in SLE. This study applied a unique method to study the effect of H3K4me3 breadth on Acitazanolast diseases and revealed new insights about epigenetic modifications in SLE, which could lead to novel treatments. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13148-016-0179-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users. Keywords: Systemic lupus erythematosus, H3K4me3, Epigenome, Integrative analysis, Pattern recognition Background Tri-methylation of histone H3 lysine 4 (H3K4me3) is a major chromatin mark regulating gene transcription . It is mostly found around transcription start sites (TSS) and strongly associated with active transcription [2, 3]. Active chromatin marks such as H3K4me3 are typically restricted to narrow regions over specific functional genomic motifs while repressive marks, such as H3K27me3, are often deposited over broader genomic regions . However, very broad peaks of H3K4me3 were recently identified in many cell types as marks that predicted cell identity . These broad peaks spanned up to 60?kb and highly differed between cell types [6, 7]. It was further shown that the breadth of H3K4me3 regions was positively correlated with transcriptional consistency . The relationship between RNA polymerase pausing and transcriptional consistency may explain the regulatory role of these broad regions of H3K4me3. However, a mechanism linking them definitively has not yet been identified. Control of transcriptional noise may be permissive for cell fate decisions, and therefore, tight regulation of transcriptional consistency may be Acitazanolast required for full commitment to a phenotype . The goal of this study was to identify distinctive patterns of H3K4me3 peak breadth within a narrower region around TSSs and determine if H3K4me3 breadth specifically at TSSs represented an independent variable of transcription regulation, a topic not previously investigated in diseases. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease affecting nearly all types of hematopoietic cells. This polygenic disorder has a complex etiopathogenesis that involves the production of type I interferon, production of autoantibody, and T cell anomaly . Clinical manifestations of SLE include arthritis, nephritis, and dermatitis. We had previously noted a markedly altered epigenome in SLE [10C13]. In this study, we utilized our previous chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data sets Acitazanolast to re-analyze chromatin changes from the perspective of peak breadth rather than peak height. After finding that substantial differences in peak breadth were strongly associated with transcription regulation, we were able to identify that the nucleosome downstream of the transcription start site is more directly associated with differential transcription than the upstream nucleosome in SLE. Results and discussion Classification of TSSs by their H3K4me3 breadth in primary monocytes H3K4me3 breadth has been identified as a regulator of cell identity and transcriptional consistency in.