Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
BMC Bioinformatics. 2006 Nov 30;7:522.

Cis-motifs upstream of the transcription and translation initiation sites are effectively revealed by their positional disequilibrium in eukaryote genomes using frequency distribution curves.

Author information

Max-Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Carl-von-Linné-Weg 10, D-50829 Köln, Germany. <>



The discovery of cis-regulatory motifs still remains a challenging task even though the number of sequenced genomes is constantly growing. Computational analyses using pattern search algorithms have been valuable in phylogenetic footprinting approaches as have expression profile experiments to predict co-occurring motifs. Surprisingly little is known about the nature of cis-regulatory element (CRE) distribution in promoters.


In this paper we used the Motif Mapper open-source collection of visual basic scripts for the analysis of motifs in any aligned set of DNA sequences. We focused on promoter motif distribution curves to identify positional over-representation of DNA motifs. Using differentially aligned datasets from the model species Arabidopsis thaliana, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, we convincingly demonstrated the importance of the position and orientation for motif discovery. Analysis with known CREs and all possible hexanucleotides showed that some functional elements gather close to the transcription and translation initiation sites and that elements other than the TATA-box motif are conserved between eukaryote promoters. While a high background frequency usually decreases the effectiveness of such an enumerative investigation, we improved our analysis by conducting motif distribution maps using large datasets.


This is the first study to reveal positional over-representation of CREs and promoter motifs in a cross-species approach. CREs and motifs shared between eukaryotic promoters support the observation that an eukaryotic promoter structure has been conserved throughout evolutionary time. Furthermore, with the information on positional enrichment of a motif or a known functional CRE, it is possible to get a more detailed insight into where an element appears to function. This in turn might accelerate the in depth examination of known and yet unknown cis-regulatory sequences in the laboratory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center