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Brief Bioinform. 2015 Jul;16(4):616-28. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbu034. Epub 2014 Sep 16.

Predictive modelling of gene expression from transcriptional regulatory elements.


Predictive modelling of gene expression provides a powerful framework for exploring the regulatory logic underpinning transcriptional regulation. Recent studies have demonstrated the utility of such models in identifying dysregulation of gene and miRNA expression associated with abnormal patterns of transcription factor (TF) binding or nucleosomal histone modifications (HMs). Despite the growing popularity of such approaches, a comparative review of the various modelling algorithms and feature extraction methods is lacking. We define and compare three methods of quantifying pairwise gene-TF/HM interactions and discuss their suitability for integrating the heterogeneous chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-seq binding patterns exhibited by TFs and HMs. We then construct log-linear and ϵ-support vector regression models from various mouse embryonic stem cell (mESC) and human lymphoblastoid (GM12878) data sets, considering both ChIP-seq- and position weight matrix- (PWM)-derived in silico TF-binding. The two algorithms are evaluated both in terms of their modelling prediction accuracy and ability to identify the established regulatory roles of individual TFs and HMs. Our results demonstrate that TF-binding and HMs are highly predictive of gene expression as measured by mRNA transcript abundance, irrespective of algorithm or cell type selection and considering both ChIP-seq and PWM-derived TF-binding. As we encourage other researchers to explore and develop these results, our framework is implemented using open-source software and made available as a preconfigured bootable virtual environment.


gene expression; histone modifications; predictive modelling; transcription factors; transcriptional regulation

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