Structure-aided prediction of mammalian transcription factor complexes in conserved non-coding elements.
ABSTRACT: Mapping the DNA-binding preferences of transcription factor (TF) complexes is critical for deciphering the functions of cis-regulatory elements. Here, we developed a computational method that compares co-occurring motif spacings in conserved versus unconserved regions of the human genome to detect evolutionarily constrained binding sites of rigid TF complexes. Structural data were used to estimate TF complex physical plausibility, explore overlapping motif arrangements seldom tackled by non-structure-aware methods, and generate and analyse three-dimensional models of the predicted complexes bound to DNA. Using this approach, we predicted 422 physically realistic TF complex motifs at 18% false discovery rate, the majority of which (326, 77%) contain some sequence overlap between binding sites. The set of mostly novel complexes is enriched in known composite motifs, predictive of binding site configurations in TF-TF-DNA crystal structures, and supported by ChIP-seq datasets. Structural modelling revealed three cooperativity mechanisms: direct protein-protein interactions, potentially indirect interactions and 'through-DNA' interactions. Indeed, 38% of the predicted complexes were found to contain four or more bases in which TF pairs appear to synergize through overlapping binding to the same DNA base pairs in opposite grooves or strands. Our TF complex and associated binding site predictions are available as a web resource at http://bejerano.stanford.edu/complex.
Project description:The binding of transcription factors (TFs) to their specific motifs in genomic regulatory regions is commonly studied in isolation. However, in order to elucidate the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation, it is essential to determine which TFs bind DNA cooperatively as dimers and to infer the precise nature of these interactions. So far, only a small number of such dimeric complexes are known. Here, we present an algorithm for predicting cell-type-specific TF-TF dimerization on DNA on a large scale, using DNase I hypersensitivity data from 78 human cell lines. We represented the universe of possible TF complexes by their corresponding motif complexes, and analyzed their occurrence at cell-type-specific DNase I hypersensitive sites. Based on ?1.4 billion tests for motif complex enrichment, we predicted 603 highly significant cell-type-specific TF dimers, the vast majority of which are novel. Our predictions included 76% (19/25) of the known dimeric complexes and showed significant overlap with an experimental database of protein-protein interactions. They were also independently supported by evolutionary conservation, as well as quantitative variation in DNase I digestion patterns. Notably, the known and predicted TF dimers were almost always highly compact and rigidly spaced, suggesting that TFs dimerize in close proximity to their partners, which results in strict constraints on the structure of the DNA-bound complex. Overall, our results indicate that chromatin openness profiles are highly predictive of cell-type-specific TF-TF interactions. Moreover, cooperative TF dimerization seems to be a widespread phenomenon, with multiple TF complexes predicted in most cell types.
Project description:Computational evaluation of protein-DNA interaction is important for the identification of DNA-binding sites and genome annotation. It could validate the predicted binding motifs by sequence-based approaches through the calculation of the binding affinity between a protein and DNA. Such an evaluation should take into account structural information to deal with the complicated effects from DNA structural deformation, distance-dependent multi-body interactions and solvation contributions. In this paper, we present a knowledge-based potential built on interactions between protein residues and DNA tri-nucleotides. The potential, which explicitly considers the distance-dependent two-body, three-body and four-body interactions between protein residues and DNA nucleotides, has been optimized in terms of a Z-score. We have applied this knowledge-based potential to evaluate the binding affinities of zinc-finger protein-DNA complexes. The predicted binding affinities are in good agreement with the experimental data (with a correlation coefficient of 0.950). On a larger test set containing 48 protein-DNA complexes with known experimental binding free energies, our potential has achieved a high correlation coefficient of 0.800, when compared with the experimental data. We have also used this potential to identify binding motifs in DNA sequences of transcription factors (TF). The TFs in 79.4% of the known TF-DNA complexes have accurately found their native binding sequences from a large pool of DNA sequences. When tested in a genome-scale search for TF-binding motifs of the cyclic AMP regulatory protein (CRP) of Escherichia coli, this potential ranks all known binding motifs of CRP in the top 15% of all candidate sequences.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Cooperative binding of transcription factor (TF) dimers to DNA is increasingly recognized as a major contributor to binding specificity. However, it is likely that the set of known TF dimers is highly incomplete, given that they were discovered using ad hoc approaches, or through computational analyses of limited datasets. RESULTS: Here, we present TACO (Transcription factor Association from Complex Overrepresentation), a general-purpose standalone software tool that takes as input any genome-wide set of regulatory elements and predicts cell-type-specific TF dimers based on enrichment of motif complexes. TACO is the first tool that can accommodate motif complexes composed of overlapping motifs, a characteristic feature of many known TF dimers. Our method comprehensively outperforms existing tools when benchmarked on a reference set of 29 known dimers. We demonstrate the utility and consistency of TACO by applying it to 152 DNase-seq datasets and 94 ChIP-seq datasets. CONCLUSIONS: Based on these results, we uncover a general principle governing the structure of TF-TF-DNA ternary complexes, namely that the flexibility of the complex is correlated with, and most likely a consequence of, inter-motif spacing.
Project description:Transcription factors (TFs) often interact with one another to form TF complexes that bind DNA and regulate gene expression. Many databases are created to describe known TF complexes identified by either mammalian two-hybrid experiments or data mining. Lately, a wealth of ChIP-seq data on human TFs under different experiment conditions are available, making it possible to investigate condition-specific (cell type and/or physiologic state) TF complexes and their target genes.Here, we developed a systematic pipeline to infer Condition-Specific Targets of human TF-TF complexes (called the CST pipeline) by integrating ChIP-seq data and TF motifs. In total, we predicted 2,392 TF complexes and 13,504 high-confidence or 127,994 low-confidence regulatory interactions amongst TF complexes and their target genes. We validated our predictions by (i) comparing predicted TF complexes to external TF complex databases, (ii) validating selected target genes of TF complexes using ChIP-qPCR and RT-PCR experiments, and (iii) analysing target genes of select TF complexes using gene ontology enrichment to demonstrate the accuracy of our work. Finally, the predicted results above were integrated and employed to construct a CST database.We built up a methodology to construct the CST database, which contributes to the analysis of transcriptional regulation and the identification of novel TF-TF complex formation in a certain condition. This database also allows users to visualize condition-specific TF regulatory networks through a user-friendly web interface.
Project description:ChIP-based genome-wide assays of transcription factor (TF) occupancy have emerged as a powerful, high-throughput method to understand transcriptional regulation, especially on a global scale. This has led to great interest in the underlying biochemical mechanisms that direct TF-DNA binding, with the ultimate goal of computationally predicting a TF's occupancy profile in any cellular condition. In this study, we examined the influence of various potential determinants of TF-DNA binding on a much larger scale than previously undertaken. We used a thermodynamics-based model of TF-DNA binding, called "STAP," to analyze 45 TF-ChIP data sets from Drosophila embryonic development. We built a cross-validation framework that compares a baseline model, based on the ChIP'ed ("primary") TF's motif, to more complex models where binding by secondary TFs is hypothesized to influence the primary TF's occupancy. Candidates interacting TFs were chosen based on RNA-SEQ expression data from the time point of the ChIP experiment. We found widespread evidence of both cooperative and antagonistic effects by secondary TFs, and explicitly quantified these effects. We were able to identify multiple classes of interactions, including (1) long-range interactions between primary and secondary motifs (separated by ?150 bp), suggestive of indirect effects such as chromatin remodeling, (2) short-range interactions with specific inter-site spacing biases, suggestive of direct physical interactions, and (3) overlapping binding sites suggesting competitive binding. Furthermore, by factoring out the previously reported strong correlation between TF occupancy and DNA accessibility, we were able to categorize the effects into those that are likely to be mediated by the secondary TF's effect on local accessibility and those that utilize accessibility-independent mechanisms. Finally, we conducted in vitro pull-down assays to test model-based predictions of short-range cooperative interactions, and found that seven of the eight TF pairs tested physically interact and that some of these interactions mediate cooperative binding to DNA.
Project description:Comprehensive identification of DNA cis-regulatory elements is crucial for a predictive understanding of transcriptional network dynamics. Strong evidence suggests that these DNA sequence motifs are highly conserved between related species, reflecting strong selection on the network of regulatory interactions that underlie common cellular behavior. Here, we exploit a systems-level aspect of this conservation-the network-level topology of these interactions-to map transcription factor (TF) binding sites on a genomic scale. Using network-level conservation as a constraint, our algorithm finds 71% of known TF binding sites in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, using only 12% of the sequence of a phylogenetic neighbor. Most of the novel predicted motifs show strong features of known TF binding sites, such as functional category and/or expression profile coherence of their corresponding genes. Network-level conservation should provide a powerful constraint for the systematic mapping of TF binding sites in the larger genomes of higher eukaryotes.
Project description:Transcription factors (TFs) play a central role in regulating gene expression by interacting with cis-regulatory DNA elements associated with their target genes. Recent surveys have examined the DNA binding specificities of most Saccharomyces cerevisiae TFs, but a comprehensive evaluation of their data has been lacking.We analyzed in vitro and in vivo TF-DNA binding data reported in previous large-scale studies to generate a comprehensive, curated resource of DNA binding specificity data for all characterized S. cerevisiae TFs. Our collection comprises DNA binding site motifs and comprehensive in vitro DNA binding specificity data for all possible 8-bp sequences. Investigation of the DNA binding specificities within the basic leucine zipper (bZIP) and VHT1 regulator (VHR) TF families revealed unexpected plasticity in TF-DNA recognition: intriguingly, the VHR TFs, newly characterized by protein binding microarrays in this study, recognize bZIP-like DNA motifs, while the bZIP TF Hac1 recognizes a motif highly similar to the canonical E-box motif of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) TFs. We identified several TFs with distinct primary and secondary motifs, which might be associated with different regulatory functions. Finally, integrated analysis of in vivo TF binding data with protein binding microarray data lends further support for indirect DNA binding in vivo by sequence-specific TFs.The comprehensive data in this curated collection allow for more accurate analyses of regulatory TF-DNA interactions, in-depth structural studies of TF-DNA specificity determinants, and future experimental investigations of the TFs' predicted target genes and regulatory roles.
Project description:Access to genome-wide data provides the opportunity to address questions concerning the ability of transcription factors (TFs) to assemble in distinct macromolecular complexes. Here, we introduce the PAnDA (Protein And DNA Associations) approach to characterize DNA associations with human TFs using expression profiles, protein-protein interactions and recognition motifs. Our method predicts TF binding events with >0.80 accuracy revealing cell-specific regulatory patterns that can be exploited for future investigations. Even when the precise DNA-binding motifs of a specific TF are not available, the information derived from protein-protein networks is sufficient to perform high-confidence predictions (area under the ROC curve of 0.89). PAnDA is freely available at http://service.tartaglialab.com/new_submission/panda.
Project description:The specific recognition of genomic cis-regulatory elements by transcription factors (TFs) plays an essential role in the regulation of coordinated gene expression. Studying the mechanisms determining binding specificity in protein-DNA interactions is thus an important goal. Most current approaches for modeling TF specific recognition rely on the knowledge of large sets of cognate target sites and consider only the information contained in their primary sequence.Here we describe a structure-based methodology for predicting sequence motifs starting from the coordinates of a TF-DNA complex. Our algorithm combines information regarding the direct and indirect readout of DNA into an atomistic statistical model, which is used to estimate the interaction potential. We first measure the ability of our method to correctly estimate the binding specificities of eight prokaryotic and eukaryotic TFs that belong to different structural superfamilies. Secondly, the method is applied to two homology models, finding that sampling of interface side-chain rotamers remarkably improves the results. Thirdly, the algorithm is compared with a reference structural method based on contact counts, obtaining comparable predictions for the experimental complexes and more accurate sequence motifs for the homology models.Our results demonstrate that atomic-detail structural information can be feasibly used to predict TF binding sites. The computational method presented here is universal and might be applied to other systems involving protein-DNA recognition.
Project description:Physical interactions between members of the MYB and bHLH transcription factor (TF) families regulate many important biological processes in plants. Not all reported MYB-bHLH interactions can be explained by the known binding sites in the R3 repeat of the MYB DNA-binding domain. Noteworthy, most of the sequence diversity of MYB TFs lies in their non-MYB regions, which contain orphan small subgroup-defining motifs not yet linked to molecular functions. Here, we identified the motif mediating interaction between MYB TFs from subgroup 12 and their bHLH partners. Unlike other known MYB-bHLH interactions, the motif locates to the centre of the predicted disordered non-MYB region. We characterised the core motif, which enabled accurate prediction of previously unknown bHLH-interacting MYB TFs in Arabidopsis thaliana, and we confirmed its functional importance in planta. Our results indicate a correlation between the MYB-bHLH interaction affinity and the phenotypic output controlled by the TF complex. The identification of an interaction motif outside R3 indicates that MYB-bHLH interactions must have arisen multiple times, independently and suggests many more motifs of functional relevance to be harvested from subgroup-specific studies.