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Methods Mol Biol. 2010;674:297-312. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60761-854-6_19.

Regulating the regulators: modulators of transcription factor activity.

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Department of Genetics, Penn Center for Bioinformatics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Gene transcription is largely regulated by DNA-binding transcription factors (TFs). However, the TF activity itself is modulated via, among other things, post-translational modifications (PTMs) by specific modification enzymes in response to cellular stimuli. TF-PTMs thus serve as "molecular switchboards" that map upstream signaling events to the downstream transcriptional events. An important long-term goal is to obtain a genome-wide map of "regulatory triplets" consisting of a TF, target gene, and a modulator gene that specifically modulates the regulation of the target gene by the TF. A variety of genome-wide data sets can be exploited by computational methods to obtain a rough map of regulatory triplets, which can guide directed experiments. However, a prerequisite to developing such computational tools is a systematic catalog of known instances of regulatory triplets. We first describe PTM-Switchboard, a recent database that stores triplets of genes such that the ability of one gene (the TF) to regulate a target gene is dependent on one or more PTMs catalyzed by a third gene, the modifying enzyme. We also review current computational approaches to infer regulatory triplets from genome-wide data sets and conclude with a discussion of potential future research. PTM-Switchboard is accessible at /.

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