Core transcriptional regulatory circuits in prion diseases.
ABSTRACT: Complex diseases involve dynamic perturbations of pathophysiological processes during disease progression. Transcriptional programs underlying such perturbations are unknown in many diseases. Here, we present core transcriptional regulatory circuits underlying early and late perturbations in prion disease. We first identified cellular processes perturbed early and late using time-course gene expression data from three prion-infected mouse strains. We then built a transcriptional regulatory network (TRN) describing regulation of early and late processes. We found over-represented feed-forward loops (FFLs) comprising transcription factor (TF) pairs and target genes in the TRN. Using gene expression data of brain cell types, we further selected active FFLs where TF pairs and target genes were expressed in the same cell type and showed correlated temporal expression changes in the brain. We finally determined core transcriptional regulatory circuits by combining these active FFLs. These circuits provide insights into transcriptional programs for early and late pathophysiological processes in prion disease.
Project description:Analysis of the topology of transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs) is an effective way to study the regulatory interactions between the transcription factors (TFs) and the target genes. TRNs are characterized by the abundance of motifs such as feed forward loops (FFLs), which contribute to their structural and functional properties. In this paper, we focus on the role of motifs (specifically, FFLs) in signal propagation in TRNs and the organization of the TRN topology with FFLs as building blocks. To this end, we classify nodes participating in FFLs (termed motif central nodes) into three distinct roles (namely, roles A, B and C), and contrast them with TRN nodes having high connectivity on the basis of their potential for information dissemination, using metrics such as network efficiency, path enumeration, epidemic models and standard graph centrality measures. We also present the notion of a three tier architecture and how it can help study the structural properties of TRN based on connectivity and clustering tendency of motif central nodes. Finally, we motivate the potential implication of the structural properties of motif centrality in design of efficient protocols of information routing in communication networks as well as their functional properties in global regulation and stress response to study specific disease conditions and identification of drug targets.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Transcription Factors (TFs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) are key players for gene expression regulation in higher eukaryotes. In the last years, a large amount of bioinformatic studies were devoted to the elucidation of transcriptional and post-transcriptional (mostly miRNA-mediated) regulatory interactions, but little is known about the interplay between them. DESCRIPTION: Here we describe a dynamic web-accessible database, CircuitsDB, supporting a genome-wide transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulatory network integration, for the human and mouse genomes, based on a bioinformatic sequence-analysis approach. In particular, CircuitsDB is currently focused on the study of mixed miRNA/TF Feed-Forward regulatory Loops (FFLs), i.e. elementary circuits in which a master TF regulates an miRNA and together with it a set of Joint Target protein-coding genes. The database was constructed using an ab-initio oligo analysis procedure for the identification of the transcriptional and post-transcriptional interactions. Several external sources of information were then pooled together to obtain the functional annotation of the proposed interactions. Results for human and mouse genomes are presented in an integrated web tool, that allows users to explore the circuits, investigate their sequence and functional properties and thus suggest possible biological experiments. CONCLUSIONS: We present CircuitsDB, a web-server devoted to the study of human and mouse mixed miRNA/TF Feed-Forward regulatory circuits, freely available at: http://biocluster.di.unito.it/circuits/
Project description:Although high-grade serous ovarian cancer (OVC) is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy in women, little is known about the regulatory mechanisms in the cellular processes that lead to this cancer. Recently, accumulated lines of evidence have shown that the interplay between transcription factors (TFs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) is critical in cellular regulation during tumorigenesis. A comprehensive investigation of TFs and miRNAs, and their target genes, may provide a deeper understanding of the regulatory mechanisms in the pathology of OVC. In this study, we have integrated three complementary algorithms into a framework, aiming to infer the regulation by miRNAs and TFs in conjunction with gene expression profiles. We demonstrated the utility of our framework by inferring 67 OVC-specific regulatory feed-forward loops (FFL) initiated by miRNAs or TFs in high-grade serous OVC. By analyzing these regulatory behaviors, we found that all the 67 FFLs are consistent in their regulatory effects on genes that are jointly targeted by miRNAs and TFs. Remarkably, we unveiled an unbalanced distribution of FFLs with different oncogenic effects. In total, 31 of the 67 coherent FFLs were mainly initiated by oncogenes. On the contrary, only 4 of the FFLs were initiated by tumor suppressor genes. These overwhelmingly observed oncogenic genes were further detected in a sub-network with 32 FFLs centered by miRNA let-7b and TF TCF7L1 to regulate cell differentiation. Closer inspection of 32 FFLs revealed that 75% of the miRNAs reportedly play functional roles in cell differentiation, especially when enriched in epithelial-mesenchymal transitions. This study provides a comprehensive pathophysiological overview of recurring coherent circuits in OVC that are co-regulated by miRNAs and TFs. The prevalence of oncogenic coherent FFLs in serous OVC suggests that oncogene-driven regulatory motifs could cooperatively act upon critical cellular processes such as cell differentiation in a highly efficient and consistent manner.
Project description:It is well known that, under suitable conditions, microRNAs are able to fine tune the relative concentration of their targets to any desired value. We show that this function is particularly effective when one of the targets is a Transcription Factor (TF) which regulates the other targets. This combination defines a new class of feed-forward loops (FFLs) in which the microRNA plays the role of master regulator. Using both deterministic and stochastic equations, we show that these FFLs are indeed able not only to fine-tune the TF/target ratio to any desired value as a function of the miRNA concentration but also, thanks to the peculiar topology of the circuit, to ensure the stability of this ratio against stochastic fluctuations. These two effects are due to the interplay between the direct transcriptional regulation and the indirect TF/Target interaction due to competition of TF and target for miRNA binding (the so called "sponge effect"). We then perform a genome wide search of these FFLs in the human regulatory network and show that they are characterized by a very peculiar enrichment pattern. In particular, they are strongly enriched in all the situations in which the TF and its target have to be precisely kept at the same concentration notwithstanding the environmental noise. As an example we discuss the FFL involving E2F1 as Transcription Factor, RB1 as target and miR-17 family as master regulator. These FFLs ensure a tight control of the E2F/RB ratio which in turns ensures the stability of the transition from the G0/G1 to the S phase in quiescent cells.
Project description:Transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs) have been studied intensely for >25 y. Yet, even for the <i>Escherichia coli</i> TRN-probably the best characterized TRN-several questions remain. Here, we address three questions: (<i>i</i>) How complete is our knowledge of the <i>E. coli</i> TRN; (<i>ii</i>) how well can we predict gene expression using this TRN; and (<i>iii</i>) how robust is our understanding of the TRN? First, we reconstructed a high-confidence TRN (hiTRN) consisting of 147 transcription factors (TFs) regulating 1,538 transcription units (TUs) encoding 1,764 genes. The 3,797 high-confidence regulatory interactions were collected from published, validated chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) data and RegulonDB. For 21 different TF knockouts, up to 63% of the differentially expressed genes in the hiTRN were traced to the knocked-out TF through regulatory cascades. Second, we trained supervised machine learning algorithms to predict the expression of 1,364 TUs given TF activities using 441 samples. The algorithms accurately predicted condition-specific expression for 86% (1,174 of 1,364) of the TUs, while 193 TUs (14%) were predicted better than random TRNs. Third, we identified 10 regulatory modules whose definitions were robust against changes to the TRN or expression compendium. Using surrogate variable analysis, we also identified three unmodeled factors that systematically influenced gene expression. Our computational workflow comprehensively characterizes the predictive capabilities and systems-level functions of an organism's TRN from disparate data types.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide with poor prognosis. Studies have showed that abnormal microRNA (miRNA) expression can affect CRC pathogenesis and development through targeting critical genes in cellular system. However, it is unclear about which miRNAs play central roles in CRC's pathogenesis and how they interact with transcription factors (TFs) to regulate the cancer-related genes.To address this issue, we systematically explored the major regulation motifs, namely feed-forward loops (FFLs), that consist of miRNAs, TFs and CRC-related genes through the construction of a miRNA-TF regulatory network in CRC. First, we compiled CRC-related miRNAs, CRC-related genes, and human TFs from multiple data sources. Second, we identified 13,123 3-node FFLs including 25 miRNA-FFLs, 13,005 TF-FFLs and 93 composite-FFLs, and merged the 3-node FFLs to construct a CRC-related regulatory network. The network consists of three types of regulatory subnetworks (SNWs): miRNA-SNW, TF-SNW, and composite-SNW. To enhance the accuracy of the network, the results were filtered by using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) expression data in CRC, whereby we generated a core regulatory network consisting of 58 significant FFLs. We then applied a hub identification strategy to the significant FFLs and found 5 significant components, including two miRNAs (hsa-miR-25 and hsa-miR-31), two genes (ADAMTSL3 and AXIN1) and one TF (BRCA1). The follow up prognosis analysis indicated all of the 5 significant components having good prediction of overall survival of CRC patients.In summary, we generated a CRC-specific miRNA-TF regulatory network, which is helpful to understand the complex CRC regulatory mechanisms and guide clinical treatment. The discovered 5 regulators might have critical roles in CRC pathogenesis and warrant future investigation.
Project description:In this work, we describe a computational framework for the genome-wide identification and characterization of mixed transcriptional/post-transcriptional regulatory circuits in humans. We concentrated in particular on feed-forward loops (FFL), in which a master transcription factor regulates a microRNA, and together with it, a set of joint target protein coding genes. The circuits were assembled with a two step procedure. We first constructed separately the transcriptional and post-transcriptional components of the human regulatory network by looking for conserved over-represented motifs in human and mouse promoters, and 3'-UTRs. Then, we combined the two subnetworks looking for mixed feed-forward regulatory interactions, finding a total of 638 putative (merged) FFLs. In order to investigate their biological relevance, we filtered these circuits using three selection criteria: (I) GeneOntology enrichment among the joint targets of the FFL, (II) independent computational evidence for the regulatory interactions of the FFL, extracted from external databases, and (III) relevance of the FFL in cancer. Most of the selected FFLs seem to be involved in various aspects of organism development and differentiation. We finally discuss a few of the most interesting cases in detail.
Project description:Recent studies have revealed that feed-forward loops (FFLs) as regulatory motifs have synergistic roles in cellular systems and their disruption may cause diseases including cancer. FFLs may include two regulators such as transcription factors (TFs) and microRNAs (miRNAs). In this study, we extensively investigated TF and miRNA regulation pairs, their FFLs, and TF-miRNA mediated regulatory networks in two major types of testicular germ cell tumors (TGCT): seminoma (SE) and non-seminoma (NSE). Specifically, we identified differentially expressed mRNA genes and miRNAs in 103 tumors using the transcriptomic data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Next, we determined significantly correlated TF-gene/miRNA and miRNA-gene/TF pairs with regulation direction. Subsequently, we determined 288 and 664 dysregulated TF-miRNA-gene FFLs in SE and NSE, respectively. By constructing dysregulated FFL networks, we found that many hub nodes (12 out of 30 for SE and 8 out of 32 for NSE) in the top ranked FFLs could predict subtype-classification (Random Forest classifier, average accuracy ?90%). These hub molecules were validated by an independent dataset. Our network analysis pinpointed several SE-specific dysregulated miRNAs (miR-200c-3p, miR-25-3p, and miR-302a-3p) and genes (EPHA2, JUN, KLF4, PLXDC2, RND3, SPI1, and TIMP3) and NSE-specific dysregulated miRNAs (miR-367-3p, miR-519d-3p, and miR-96-5p) and genes (NR2F1 and NR2F2). This study is the first systematic investigation of TF and miRNA regulation and their co-regulation in two major TGCT subtypes.
Project description:Network motifs, such as the feed-forward loop (FFL), introduce a range of complex behaviors to transcriptional regulatory networks, yet such properties are typically determined from their isolated study. We characterize the effects of crosstalk on FFL dynamics by modeling the cross regulation between two different FFLs and evaluate the extent to which these patterns occur in vivo. Analytical modeling suggests that crosstalk should overwhelmingly affect individual protein-expression dynamics. Counter to this expectation we find that entire FFLs are more likely than expected to resist the effects of crosstalk (?20% for one crosstalk interaction) and remain dynamically modular. The likelihood that cross-linked FFLs are dynamically correlated increases monotonically with additional crosstalk, but is independent of the specific regulation type or connectivity of the interactions. Just one additional regulatory interaction is sufficient to drive the FFL dynamics to a statistically different state. Despite the potential for modularity between sparsely connected network motifs, Escherichia coli (E. coli) appears to favor crosstalk wherein at least one of the cross-linked FFLs remains modular. A gene ontology analysis reveals that stress response processes are significantly overrepresented in the cross-linked motifs found within E. coli. Although the daunting complexity of biological networks affects the dynamical properties of individual network motifs, some resist and remain modular, seemingly insulated from extrinsic perturbations-an intriguing possibility for nature to consistently and reliably provide certain network functionalities wherever the need arise.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Integrating data from multiple global assays and curated databases is essential to understand the spatio-temporal interactions within cells. Different experiments measure cellular processes at various widths and depths, while databases contain biological information based on established facts or published data. Integrating these complementary datasets helps infer a mutually consistent transcriptional regulatory network (TRN) with strong similarity to the structure of the underlying genetic regulatory modules. Decomposing the TRN into a small set of recurring regulatory patterns, called network motifs (NM), facilitates the inference. Identifying NMs defined by specific transcription factors (TF) establishes the framework structure of a TRN and allows the inference of TF-target gene relationship. This paper introduces a computational framework for utilizing data from multiple sources to infer TF-target gene relationships on the basis of NMs. The data include time course gene expression profiles, genome-wide location analysis data, binding sequence data, and gene ontology (GO) information. RESULTS: The proposed computational framework was tested using gene expression data associated with cell cycle progression in yeast. Among 800 cell cycle related genes, 85 were identified as candidate TFs and classified into four previously defined NMs. The NMs for a subset of TFs are obtained from literature. Support vector machine (SVM) classifiers were used to estimate NMs for the remaining TFs. The potential downstream target genes for the TFs were clustered into 34 biologically significant groups. The relationships between TFs and potential target gene clusters were examined by training recurrent neural networks whose topologies mimic the NMs to which the TFs are classified. The identified relationships between TFs and gene clusters were evaluated using the following biological validation and statistical analyses: (1) Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) to evaluate the clustering results; (2) Leave-one-out cross-validation (LOOCV) to ensure that the SVM classifiers assign TFs to NM categories with high confidence; (3) Binding site enrichment analysis (BSEA) to determine enrichment of the gene clusters for the cognate binding sites of their predicted TFs; (4) Comparison with previously reported results in the literatures to confirm the inferred regulations. CONCLUSION: The major contribution of this study is the development of a computational framework to assist the inference of TRN by integrating heterogeneous data from multiple sources and by decomposing a TRN into NM-based modules. The inference capability of the proposed framework is verified statistically (e.g., LOOCV) and biologically (e.g., GSEA, BSEA, and literature validation). The proposed framework is useful for inferring small NM-based modules of TF-target gene relationships that can serve as a basis for generating new testable hypotheses.