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PLoS Comput Biol. 2011 Jun;7(6):e1002064. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002064. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Towards an evolutionary model of transcription networks.

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1
Department of Bioengineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Illinois, USA.

Abstract

DNA evolution models made invaluable contributions to comparative genomics, although it seemed formidable to include non-genomic features into these models. In order to build an evolutionary model of transcription networks (TNs), we had to forfeit the substitution model used in DNA evolution and to start from modeling the evolution of the regulatory relationships. We present a quantitative evolutionary model of TNs, subjecting the phylogenetic distance and the evolutionary changes of cis-regulatory sequence, gene expression and network structure to one probabilistic framework. Using the genome sequences and gene expression data from multiple species, this model can predict regulatory relationships between a transcription factor (TF) and its target genes in all species, and thus identify TN re-wiring events. Applying this model to analyze the pre-implantation development of three mammalian species, we identified the conserved and re-wired components of the TNs downstream to a set of TFs including Oct4, Gata3/4/6, cMyc and nMyc. Evolutionary events on the DNA sequence that led to turnover of TF binding sites were identified, including a birth of an Oct4 binding site by a 2nt deletion. In contrast to recent reports of large interspecies differences of TF binding sites and gene expression patterns, the interspecies difference in TF-target relationship is much smaller. The data showed increasing conservation levels from genomic sequences to TF-DNA interaction, gene expression, TN, and finally to morphology, suggesting that evolutionary changes are larger at molecular levels and smaller at functional levels. The data also showed that evolutionarily older TFs are more likely to have conserved target genes, whereas younger TFs tend to have larger re-wiring rates.

PMID:
21695281
PMCID:
PMC3111474
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002064
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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