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1.  Tree-Based Position Weight Matrix Approach to Model Transcription Factor Binding Site Profiles 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24210.
Most of the position weight matrix (PWM) based bioinformatics methods developed to predict transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) assume each nucleotide in the sequence motif contributes independently to the interaction between protein and DNA sequence, usually producing high false positive predictions. The increasing availability of TF enrichment profiles from recent ChIP-Seq methodology facilitates the investigation of dependent structure and accurate prediction of TFBSs. We develop a novel Tree-based PWM (TPWM) approach to accurately model the interaction between TF and its binding site. The whole tree-structured PWM could be considered as a mixture of different conditional-PWMs. We propose a discriminative approach, called TPD (TPWM based Discriminative Approach), to construct the TPWM from the ChIP-Seq data with a pre-existing PWM. To achieve the maximum discriminative power between the positive and negative datasets, the cutoff value is determined based on the Matthew Correlation Coefficient (MCC). The resulting TPWMs are evaluated with respect to accuracy on extensive synthetic datasets. We then apply our TPWM discriminative approach on several real ChIP-Seq datasets to refine the current TFBS models stored in the TRANSFAC database. Experiments on both the simulated and real ChIP-Seq data show that the proposed method starting from existing PWM has consistently better performance than existing tools in detecting the TFBSs. The improved accuracy is the result of modelling the complete dependent structure of the motifs and better prediction of true positive rate. The findings could lead to better understanding of the mechanisms of TF-DNA interactions.
PMCID: PMC3166302  PMID: 21912677
2.  Site-specific chromatin immunoprecipitation: a selective method to individually analyze neighboring transcription factor binding sites in vivo 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:109.
Transcription factors (TFs) and their binding sites (TFBSs) play a central role in the regulation of gene expression. It is therefore vital to know how the allocation pattern of TFBSs affects the functioning of any particular gene in vivo. A widely used method to analyze TFBSs in vivo is the chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). However, this method in its present state does not enable the individual investigation of densely arranged TFBSs due to the underlying unspecific DNA fragmentation technique. This study describes a site-specific ChIP which aggregates the benefits of both EMSA and in vivo footprinting in only one assay, thereby allowing the individual detection and analysis of single binding motifs.
The standard ChIP protocol was modified by replacing the conventional DNA fragmentation, i. e. via sonication or undirected enzymatic digestion (by MNase), through a sequence specific enzymatic digestion step. This alteration enables the specific immunoprecipitation and individual examination of occupied sites, even in a complex system of adjacent binding motifs in vivo. Immunoprecipitated chromatin was analyzed by PCR using two primer sets - one for the specific detection of precipitated TFBSs and one for the validation of completeness of the enzyme digestion step. The method was established exemplary for Sp1 TFBSs within the egfr promoter region. Using this site-specific ChIP, we were able to confirm four previously described Sp1 binding sites within egfr promoter region to be occupied by Sp1 in vivo. Despite the dense arrangement of the Sp1 TFBSs the improved ChIP method was able to individually examine the allocation of all adjacent Sp1 TFBS at once. The broad applicability of this site-specific ChIP could be demonstrated by analyzing these SP1 motifs in both osteosarcoma cells and kidney carcinoma tissue.
The ChIP technology is a powerful tool for investigating transcription factors in vivo, especially in cancer biology. The established site-specific enzyme digestion enables a reliable and individual detection option for densely arranged binding motifs in vivo not provided by e.g. EMSA or in vivo footprinting. Given the important function of transcription factors in neoplastic mechanism, our method enables a broad diversity of application options for clinical studies.
PMCID: PMC3312844  PMID: 22348285
3.  The Next Generation of Transcription Factor Binding Site Prediction 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(9):e1003214.
Finding where transcription factors (TFs) bind to the DNA is of key importance to decipher gene regulation at a transcriptional level. Classically, computational prediction of TF binding sites (TFBSs) is based on basic position weight matrices (PWMs) which quantitatively score binding motifs based on the observed nucleotide patterns in a set of TFBSs for the corresponding TF. Such models make the strong assumption that each nucleotide participates independently in the corresponding DNA-protein interaction and do not account for flexible length motifs. We introduce transcription factor flexible models (TFFMs) to represent TF binding properties. Based on hidden Markov models, TFFMs are flexible, and can model both position interdependence within TFBSs and variable length motifs within a single dedicated framework. The availability of thousands of experimentally validated DNA-TF interaction sequences from ChIP-seq allows for the generation of models that perform as well as PWMs for stereotypical TFs and can improve performance for TFs with flexible binding characteristics. We present a new graphical representation of the motifs that convey properties of position interdependence. TFFMs have been assessed on ChIP-seq data sets coming from the ENCODE project, revealing that they can perform better than both PWMs and the dinucleotide weight matrix extension in discriminating ChIP-seq from background sequences. Under the assumption that ChIP-seq signal values are correlated with the affinity of the TF-DNA binding, we find that TFFM scores correlate with ChIP-seq peak signals. Moreover, using available TF-DNA affinity measurements for the Max TF, we demonstrate that TFFMs constructed from ChIP-seq data correlate with published experimentally measured DNA-binding affinities. Finally, TFFMs allow for the straightforward computation of an integrated TF occupancy score across a sequence. These results demonstrate the capacity of TFFMs to accurately model DNA-protein interactions, while providing a single unified framework suitable for the next generation of TFBS prediction.
Author Summary
Transcription factors are critical proteins for sequence-specific control of transcriptional regulation. Finding where these proteins bind to DNA is of key importance for global efforts to decipher the complex mechanisms of gene regulation. Greater understanding of the regulation of transcription promises to improve human genetic analysis by specifying critical gene components that have eluded investigators. Classically, computational prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) is based on models giving weights to each nucleotide at each position. We introduce a novel statistical model for the prediction of TFBS tolerant of a broader range of TFBS configurations than can be conveniently accommodated by existing methods. The new models are designed to address the confounding properties of nucleotide composition, inter-positional sequence dependence and variable lengths (e.g. variable spacing between half-sites) observed in the more comprehensive experimental data now emerging. The new models generate scores consistent with DNA-protein affinities measured experimentally and can be represented graphically, retaining desirable attributes of past methods. It demonstrates the capacity of the new approach to accurately assess DNA-protein interactions. With the rich experimental data generated from chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments, a greater diversity of TFBS properties has emerged that can now be accommodated within a single predictive approach.
PMCID: PMC3764009  PMID: 24039567
4.  Extracting transcription factor binding sites from unaligned gene sequences with statistical models 
BMC Bioinformatics  2008;9(Suppl 12):S7.
Transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) are crucial in the regulation of gene transcription. Recently, chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by cDNA microarray hybridization (ChIP-chip array) has been used to identify potential regulatory sequences, but the procedure can only map the probable protein-DNA interaction loci within 1–2 kb resolution. To find out the exact binding motifs, it is necessary to build a computational method to examine the ChIP-chip array binding sequences and search for possible motifs representing the transcription factor binding sites.
We developed a program to find out accurate motif sites from a set of unaligned DNA sequences in the yeast genome. Compared with MDscan, the prediction results suggest that, overall, our algorithm outperforms MDscan since the predicted motifs are more consistent with previously known specificities reported in the literature and have better prediction ranks. Our program also outperforms the constraint-less Cosmo program, especially in the elimination of false positives.
In this study, an improved sampling algorithm is proposed to incorporate the binomial probability model to build significant initial candidate motif sets. By investigating the statistical dependence between base positions in TFBSs, the method of dependency graphs and their expanded Bayesian networks is combined. The results show that our program satisfactorily extract transcription factor binding sites from unaligned gene sequences.
PMCID: PMC2638147  PMID: 19091030
5.  ConTra: a promoter alignment analysis tool for identification of transcription factor binding sites across species 
Nucleic Acids Research  2008;36(Web Server issue):W128-W132.
Transcription factors (TFs) are key components in signaling pathways, and the presence of their binding sites in the promoter regions of DNA is essential for their regulation of the expression of the corresponding genes. Orthologous promoter sequences are commonly used to increase the specificity with which potentially functional transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) are recognized and to detect possibly important similarities or differences between the different species. The ConTra (conserved TFBSs) web server provides the biologist at the bench with a user-friendly tool to interactively visualize TFBSs predicted using either TransFac (1) or JASPAR (2) position weight matrix libraries, on a promoter alignment of choice. The visualization can be preceded by a simple scoring analysis to explore which TFs are the most likely to bind to the promoter of interest. The ConTra web server is available at
PMCID: PMC2447729  PMID: 18453628
6.  Identification of polymorphic antioxidant response elements (AREs) in the human genome 
Human molecular genetics  2007;16(10):1188-1200.
Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) may affect the binding of transcription factors, lead to differences in gene expression and phenotypes, and therefore affect susceptibility to environmental exposure. We developed an integrated computational system for discovering functional SNPs in TFBSs in the human genome and predicting their impact on the expression of target genes. In this system we: (1) construct a position weight matrix (PWM) from a collection of experimentally discovered TFBSs; (2) predict TFBSs in SNP sequences using the PWM and map SNPs to the upstream regions of genes; (3) examine the evolutionary conservation of putative TFBSs by phylogenetic footprinting; (4) prioritize candidate SNPs based on microarray expression profiles from tissues in which the transcription factor of interest is either deleted or over-expressed; and (5) finally, analyze association of SNP genotypes with gene expression phenotypes. The application of our system has been tested to identify functional polymorphisms in the antioxidant response element (ARE), a cis-acting enhancer sequence found in the promoter region of many genes that encode antioxidant and Phase II detoxification enzymes/proteins. In response to oxidative stress, the transcription factor NRF2 (nuclear factor erythroid-derived 2-like 2) binds to AREs, mediating transcriptional activation of its responsive genes and modulating in vivo defense mechanisms against oxidative damage. Using our novel computational tools, we have identified a set of polymorphic AREs with functional evidence, showing the utility of our system to direct further experimental validation of genomic sequence variations that could be useful for identifying high-risk individuals.
PMCID: PMC2805149  PMID: 17409198
7.  Identification of co-occurring transcription factor binding sites from DNA sequence using clustered position weight matrices 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(5):e38.
Accurate prediction of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) is a prerequisite for identifying cis-regulatory modules that underlie transcriptional regulatory circuits encoded in the genome. Here, we present a computational framework for detecting TFBSs, when multiple position weight matrices (PWMs) for a transcription factor are available. Grouping multiple PWMs of a transcription factor (TF) based on their sequence similarity improves the specificity of TFBS prediction, which was evaluated using multiple genome-wide ChIP-Seq data sets from 26 TFs. The Z-scores of the area under a receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) values of 368 TFs were calculated and used to statistically identify co-occurring regulatory motifs in the TF bound ChIP loci. Motifs that are co-occurring along with the empirical bindings of E2F, JUN or MYC have been evaluated, in the basal or stimulated condition. Results prove our method can be useful to systematically identify the co-occurring motifs of the TF for the given conditions.
PMCID: PMC3300004  PMID: 22187154
8.  Correlating Gene Expression Variation with cis-Regulatory Polymorphism in Saccharomyces cerevisiae 
Identifying the nucleotides that cause gene expression variation is a critical step in dissecting the genetic basis of complex traits. Here, we focus on polymorphisms that are predicted to alter transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We assembled a confident set of transcription factor motifs using recent protein binding microarray and ChIP-chip data and used our collection of motifs to predict a comprehensive set of TFBSs across the S. cerevisiae genome. We used a population genomics analysis to show that our predictions are accurate and significantly improve on our previous annotation. Although predicting gene expression from sequence is thought to be difficult in general, we identified a subset of genes for which changes in predicted TFBSs correlate well with expression divergence between yeast strains. Our analysis thus demonstrates both the accuracy of our new TFBS predictions and the feasibility of using simple models of gene regulation to causally link differences in gene expression to variation at individual nucleotides.
PMCID: PMC2953268  PMID: 20829281
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; transcription factors; transcription factor binding sites; population genetics; gene expression; SNP; eQTL
9.  PromAn: an integrated knowledge-based web server dedicated to promoter analysis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(Web Server issue):W578-W583.
PromAn is a modular web-based tool dedicated to promoter analysis that integrates distinct complementary databases, methods and programs. PromAn provides automatic analysis of a genomic region with minimal prior knowledge of the genomic sequence. Prediction programs and experimental databases are combined to locate the transcription start site (TSS) and the promoter region within a large genomic input sequence. Transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) can be predicted using several public databases and user-defined motifs. Also, a phylogenetic footprinting strategy, combining multiple alignment of large genomic sequences and assignment of various scores reflecting the evolutionary selection pressure, allows for evaluation and ranking of TFBS predictions. PromAn results can be displayed in an interactive graphical user interface, PromAnGUI. It integrates all of this information to highlight active promoter regions, to identify among the huge number of TFBS predictions those which are the most likely to be potentially functional and to facilitate user refined analysis. Such an integrative approach is essential in the face of a growing number of tools dedicated to promoter analysis in order to propose hypotheses to direct further experimental validations. PromAn is publicly available at .
PMCID: PMC1538850  PMID: 16845074
10.  Global Mapping of Transcription Factor Binding Sites by Sequencing Chromatin Surrogates: a Perspective on Experimental Design, Data Analysis, and Open Problems 
Statistics in Biosciences  2012;5(1):156-178.
Mapping genome-wide binding sites of all transcription factors (TFs) in all biological contexts is a critical step toward understanding gene regulation. The state-of-the-art technologies for mapping transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) couple chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) or tiling array hybridization (ChIP-chip). These technologies have limitations: they are low-throughput with respect to surveying many TFs. Recent advances in genome-wide chromatin profiling, including development of technologies such as DNase-seq, FAIRE-seq and ChIP-seq for histone modifications, make it possible to predict in vivo TFBSs by analyzing chromatin features at computationally determined DNA motif sites. This promising new approach may allow researchers to monitor the genome-wide binding sites of many TFs simultaneously. In this article, we discuss various experimental design and data analysis issues that arise when applying this approach. Through a systematic analysis of the data from the Encyclopedia Of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, we compare the predictive power of individual and combinations of chromatin marks using supervised and unsupervised learning methods, and evaluate the value of integrating information from public ChIP and gene expression data. We also highlight the challenges and opportunities for developing novel analytical methods, such as resolving the one-motif-multiple-TF ambiguity and distinguishing functional and non-functional TF binding targets from the predicted binding sites.
Electronic Supplementary Material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12561-012-9066-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3677239  PMID: 23762209
Transcription factor binding sites; DNase-seq; ChIP-seq; FAIRE-seq; Next-generation sequencing; Motif
11.  A Bayesian hidden Markov model for motif discovery through joint modeling of genomic sequence and ChIP-chip data 
Biometrics  2009;65(4):1087-1095.
We propose a unified framework for the analysis of Chromatin (Ch) Immunoprecipitation (IP) microarray (ChIP-chip) data for detecting transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) or motifs. ChIP-chip assays are used to focus the genome-wide search for TFBSs by isolating a sample of DNA fragments with TFBSs and applying this sample to a microarray with probes corresponding to tiled segments across the genome. Present analytical methods use a two-step approach: (i) analyze array data to estimate IP enrichment peaks then (ii) analyze the corresponding sequences independently of intensity information. The proposed model integrates peak finding and motif discovery through a unified Bayesian hidden Markov model (HMM) framework that accommodates the inherent uncertainty in both measurements. A Markov Chain Monte Carlo algorithm is formulated for parameter estimation, adapting recursive techniques used for HMMs. In simulations and applications to a yeast RAP1 dataset, the proposed method has favorable TFBS discovery performance compared to currently available two-stage procedures in terms of both sensitivity and specificity.
PMCID: PMC2794970  PMID: 19210737
Data augmentation; Gene regulation; Tiling array; Transcription factor binding site
12.  PscanChIP: finding over-represented transcription factor-binding site motifs and their correlations in sequences from ChIP-Seq experiments 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(Web Server issue):W535-W543.
Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing with next-generation technologies (ChIP-Seq) has become the de facto standard for building genome-wide maps of regions bound by a given transcription factor (TF). The regions identified, however, have to be further analyzed to determine the actual DNA-binding sites for the TF, as well as sites for other TFs belonging to the same TF complex or in general co-operating or interacting with it in transcription regulation. PscanChIP is a web server that, starting from a collection of genomic regions derived from a ChIP-Seq experiment, scans them using motif descriptors like JASPAR or TRANSFAC position-specific frequency matrices, or descriptors uploaded by users, and it evaluates both motif enrichment and positional bias within the regions according to different measures and criteria. PscanChIP can successfully identify not only the actual binding sites for the TF investigated by a ChIP-Seq experiment but also secondary motifs corresponding to other TFs that tend to bind the same regions, and, if present, precise positional correlations among their respective sites. The web interface is free for use, and there is no login requirement. It is available at
PMCID: PMC3692095  PMID: 23748563
13.  The MAPPER database: a multi-genome catalog of putative transcription factor binding sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;33(Database issue):D91-D97.
We describe a comprehensive map of putative transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) across multiple genomes created using a search method that relies on hidden Markov models built from experimentally determined TFBSs. Using the information in the TRANSFAC and JASPAR databases, we built 1134 models for TFBSs and used them to scan regions 10 kb upstream of the start of the transcript for all known genes in the human, mouse and Drosophila melanogaster genomes. The results, together with homology information on clusters of ortholog genes across the three genomes, were used to create a multi-organism catalog of annotated TFBSs. The catalog can be queried through a web interface accessible at that allows the identification, visualization and selection of TFBSs occurring in the promoter of a gene of interest and also the common factors predicted to bind across the cluster of orthologs that includes that gene. Alternatively, the interface allows the user to retrieve binding sites for a single transcription factor of interest in a single gene or in all genes of the human, mouse or fruit fly genomes.
PMCID: PMC540057  PMID: 15608292
14.  PePPER: a webserver for prediction of prokaryote promoter elements and regulons 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:299.
Accurate prediction of DNA motifs that are targets of RNA polymerases, sigma factors and transcription factors (TFs) in prokaryotes is a difficult mission mainly due to as yet undiscovered features in DNA sequences or structures in promoter regions. Improved prediction and comparison algorithms are currently available for identifying transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) and their accompanying TFs and regulon members.
We here extend the current databases of TFs, TFBSs and regulons with our knowledge on Lactococcus lactis and developed a webserver for prediction, mining and visualization of prokaryote promoter elements and regulons via a novel concept. This new approach includes an all-in-one method of data mining for TFs, TFBSs, promoters, and regulons for any bacterial genome via a user-friendly webserver. We demonstrate the power of this method by mining WalRK regulons in Lactococci and Streptococci and, vice versa, use L. lactis regulon data (CodY) to mine closely related species.
The PePPER webserver offers, besides the all-in-one analysis method, a toolbox for mining for regulons, promoters and TFBSs and accommodates a new L. lactis regulon database in addition to already existing regulon data. Identification of putative regulons and full annotation of intergenic regions in any bacterial genome on the basis of existing knowledge on a related organism can now be performed by biologists and it can be done for a wide range of regulons. On the basis of the PePPER output, biologist can design experiments to further verify the existence and extent of the proposed regulons. The PePPER webserver is freely accessible at
PMCID: PMC3472324  PMID: 22747501
15.  A survey of motif finding Web tools for detecting binding site motifs in ChIP-Seq data 
Biology Direct  2014;9:4.
ChIP-Seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing) has provided the advantage for finding motifs as ChIP-Seq experiments narrow down the motif finding to binding site locations. Recent motif finding tools facilitate the motif detection by providing user-friendly Web interface. In this work, we reviewed nine motif finding Web tools that are capable for detecting binding site motifs in ChIP-Seq data. We showed each motif finding Web tool has its own advantages for detecting motifs that other tools may not discover. We recommended the users to use multiple motif finding Web tools that implement different algorithms for obtaining significant motifs, overlapping resemble motifs, and non-overlapping motifs. Finally, we provided our suggestions for future development of motif finding Web tool that better assists researchers for finding motifs in ChIP-Seq data.
This article was reviewed by Prof. Sandor Pongor, Dr. Yuriy Gusev, and Dr. Shyam Prabhakar (nominated by Prof. Limsoon Wong).
PMCID: PMC4022013  PMID: 24555784
Motif finding Web tool; Peak calling; Binding site; Over-represented motif; ChIP-Seq
16.  A General Pairwise Interaction Model Provides an Accurate Description of In Vivo Transcription Factor Binding Sites 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99015.
The identification of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) on genomic DNA is of crucial importance for understanding and predicting regulatory elements in gene networks. TFBS motifs are commonly described by Position Weight Matrices (PWMs), in which each DNA base pair contributes independently to the transcription factor (TF) binding. However, this description ignores correlations between nucleotides at different positions, and is generally inaccurate: analysing fly and mouse in vivo ChIPseq data, we show that in most cases the PWM model fails to reproduce the observed statistics of TFBSs. To overcome this issue, we introduce the pairwise interaction model (PIM), a generalization of the PWM model. The model is based on the principle of maximum entropy and explicitly describes pairwise correlations between nucleotides at different positions, while being otherwise as unconstrained as possible. It is mathematically equivalent to considering a TF-DNA binding energy that depends additively on each nucleotide identity at all positions in the TFBS, like the PWM model, but also additively on pairs of nucleotides. We find that the PIM significantly improves over the PWM model, and even provides an optimal description of TFBS statistics within statistical noise. The PIM generalizes previous approaches to interdependent positions: it accounts for co-variation of two or more base pairs, and predicts secondary motifs, while outperforming multiple-motif models consisting of mixtures of PWMs. We analyse the structure of pairwise interactions between nucleotides, and find that they are sparse and dominantly located between consecutive base pairs in the flanking region of TFBS. Nonetheless, interactions between pairs of non-consecutive nucleotides are found to play a significant role in the obtained accurate description of TFBS statistics. The PIM is computationally tractable, and provides a general framework that should be useful for describing and predicting TFBSs beyond PWMs.
PMCID: PMC4057186  PMID: 24926895
17.  Fine-Tuning Enhancer Models to Predict Transcriptional Targets across Multiple Genomes 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(11):e1115.
Networks of regulatory relations between transcription factors (TF) and their target genes (TG)- implemented through TF binding sites (TFBS)- are key features of biology. An idealized approach to solving such networks consists of starting from a consensus TFBS or a position weight matrix (PWM) to generate a high accuracy list of candidate TGs for biological validation. Developing and evaluating such approaches remains a formidable challenge in regulatory bioinformatics. We perform a benchmark study on 34 Drosophila TFs to assess existing TFBS and cis-regulatory module (CRM) detection methods, with a strong focus on the use of multiple genomes. Particularly, for CRM-modelling we investigate the addition of orthologous sites to a known PWM to construct phyloPWMs and we assess the added value of phylogenentic footprinting to predict contextual motifs around known TFBSs. For CRM-prediction, we compare motif conservation with network-level conservation approaches across multiple genomes. Choosing the optimal training and scoring strategies strongly enhances the performance of TG prediction for more than half of the tested TFs. Finally, we analyse a 35th TF, namely Eyeless, and find a significant overlap between predicted TGs and candidate TGs identified by microarray expression studies. In summary we identify several ways to optimize TF-specific TG predictions, some of which can be applied to all TFs, and others that can be applied only to particular TFs. The ability to model known TF-TG relations, together with the use of multiple genomes, results in a significant step forward in solving the architecture of gene regulatory networks.
PMCID: PMC2047340  PMID: 17973026
18.  Using CisGenome to Analyze ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq Data 
Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) coupled with genome tiling array hybridization (ChIP-chip) and ChIP followed by massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq) are high throughput approaches to profile genome-wide protein-DNA interactions. Both technologies are increasingly used to study transcription factor binding sites and chromatin modifications. CisGenome is an integrated software system for analyzing ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq data. This unit describes basic functions of CisGenome and how to use them to find genomic regions with protein-DNA interactions, visualize binding signals, associate binding regions with nearby genes, search for novel transcription factor binding motifs, and map existing DNA sequence motifs to user-supplied genomic regions to define their exact locations.
PMCID: PMC3072298  PMID: 21400695
transcription factor; chromatin immunoprecipitation; tiling array; next generation sequencing; motif; gene regulation
19.  CONREAL web server: identification and visualization of conserved transcription factor binding sites 
Nucleic Acids Research  2005;33(Web Server issue):W447-W450.
The use of orthologous sequences and phylogenetic footprinting approaches have become popular for the recognition of conserved and potentially functional sequences. Several algorithms have been developed for the identification of conserved transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs), which are characterized by their relatively short and degenerative recognition sequences. The CONREAL (conserved regulatory elements anchored alignment) web server provides a versatile interface to CONREAL-, LAGAN-, BLASTZ- and AVID-based predictions of conserved TFBSs in orthologous promoters. Comparative analysis using different algorithms can be started by keyword without any prior sequence retrieval. The interface is available at .
PMCID: PMC1160139  PMID: 15980509
20.  A Structural-Based Strategy for Recognition of Transcription Factor Binding Sites 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e52460.
Scanning through genomes for potential transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) is becoming increasingly important in this post-genomic era. The position weight matrix (PWM) is the standard representation of TFBSs utilized when scanning through sequences for potential binding sites. However, many transcription factor (TF) motifs are short and highly degenerate, and methods utilizing PWMs to scan for sites are plagued by false positives. Furthermore, many important TFs do not have well-characterized PWMs, making identification of potential binding sites even more difficult. One approach to the identification of sites for these TFs has been to use the 3D structure of the TF to predict the DNA structure around the TF and then to generate a PWM from the predicted 3D complex structure. However, this approach is dependent on the similarity of the predicted structure to the native structure. We introduce here a novel approach to identify TFBSs utilizing structure information that can be applied to TFs without characterized PWMs, as long as a 3D complex structure (TF/DNA) exists. This approach utilizes an energy function that is uniquely trained on each structure. Our approach leads to increased prediction accuracy and robustness compared with those using a more general energy function. The software is freely available upon request.
PMCID: PMC3540023  PMID: 23320072
21.  Transcription regulation by murine B-myb is distinct from that by c-myb. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1993;21(2):267-272.
The transcription regulatory properties of murine B-myb protein were compared to those of c-myb. Whereas c-Myb trans-activated an SV40 early promoter containing multiple copies of an upstream c-Myb DNA-binding site (MBS-1), and similarly the human c-myc promoter, B-Myb was unable to do so. Full-length B-Myb translated in vitro did not bind MBS-1; however, truncation of the B-Myb C-terminus or fusion of the B-Myb DNA-binding domain to the c-Myb C-terminus showed that it was inherently competent to interact with this motif. Further evidence from co-transfection experiments, demonstrating that B-Myb inhibited trans-activation by c-Myb, suggested that failure of B-Myb to trans-activate these promoters did not simply occur through lack of binding to MBS-1. Moreover, using GAL4/B-Myb fusions, it was found that an acidic region of B-Myb, which by comparison to c-Myb was expected to contain a transcription activation domain, actually had no inherent trans-activation activity and indeed appeared to trans-inhibit c-Myb. In contrast to the above findings, both B-Myb and c-Myb were able to weakly trans-activate the DNA polymerase alpha promoter. Results obtained here demonstrate that the activities of B-Myb and c-Myb are clearly distinct and suggest that these related proteins may have different functions in regulation of target gene expression.
PMCID: PMC309102  PMID: 8382794
22.  Variable structure motifs for transcription factor binding sites 
BMC Genomics  2010;11:30.
Classically, models of DNA-transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) have been based on relatively few known instances and have treated them as sites of fixed length using position weight matrices (PWMs). Various extensions to this model have been proposed, most of which take account of dependencies between the bases in the binding sites. However, some transcription factors are known to exhibit some flexibility and bind to DNA in more than one possible physical configuration. In some cases this variation is known to affect the function of binding sites. With the increasing volume of ChIP-seq data available it is now possible to investigate models that incorporate this flexibility. Previous work on variable length models has been constrained by: a focus on specific zinc finger proteins in yeast using restrictive models; a reliance on hand-crafted models for just one transcription factor at a time; and a lack of evaluation on realistically sized data sets.
We re-analysed binding sites from the TRANSFAC database and found motivating examples where our new variable length model provides a better fit. We analysed several ChIP-seq data sets with a novel motif search algorithm and compared the results to one of the best standard PWM finders and a recently developed alternative method for finding motifs of variable structure. All the methods performed comparably in held-out cross validation tests. Known motifs of variable structure were recovered for p53, Stat5a and Stat5b. In addition our method recovered a novel generalised version of an existing PWM for Sp1 that allows for variable length binding. This motif improved classification performance.
We have presented a new gapped PWM model for variable length DNA binding sites that is not too restrictive nor over-parameterised. Our comparison with existing tools shows that on average it does not have better predictive accuracy than existing methods. However, it does provide more interpretable models of motifs of variable structure that are suitable for follow-up structural studies. To our knowledge, we are the first to apply variable length motif models to eukaryotic ChIP-seq data sets and consequently the first to show their value in this domain. The results include a novel motif for the ubiquitous transcription factor Sp1.
PMCID: PMC2824720  PMID: 20074339
23.  W-ChIPeaks: a comprehensive web application tool for processing ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq data 
Bioinformatics  2010;27(3):428-430.
Summary: ChIP-based technology is becoming the leading technology to globally profile thousands of transcription factors and elucidate the transcriptional regulation mechanisms in living cells. It has evolved rapidly in recent years, from hybridization with spotted or tiling microarray (ChIP-chip), to pair-end tag sequencing (ChIP-PET), to current massively parallel sequencing (ChIP-seq). Although there are many tools available for identifying binding sites (peaks) for ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq, few of them are available as easy-accessible online web tools for processing both ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq data for the ChIP-based user community. As such, we have developed a comprehensive web application tool for processing ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq data. Our web tool W-ChIPeaks employed a probe-based (or bin-based) enrichment threshold to define peaks and applied statistical methods to control false discovery rate for identified peaks. The web tool includes two different web interfaces: PELT for ChIP-chip, BELT for ChIP-seq, where both were tested on previously published experimental data. The novel features of our tool include a comprehensive output for identified peaks with GFF, BED, bedGraph and .wig formats, annotated genes to which these peaks are related, a graphical interpretation and visualization of the results via a user-friendly web interface.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3031039  PMID: 21138948
24.  A web server for transcription factor binding site prediction 
Bioinformation  2006;1(5):156-157.
Promoter prediction has gained increased attention in studies related to transcriptional regulation of gene expression.We developed a web server named PMSearch (Poly Matrix Search) which utilizes Position Frequency Matrices (PFMs) to predict transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) in DNA sequences. PMSearch takes PFMs (either user-defined or retrieved from local dataset which currently contains 507 PFMs from Transfac Public 7.0 and JASPAR) and DNA sequences of interest as the input, then scans the DNA sequences with PFMs and reports the sites of high scores as the putative binding sites. The output of the server includes 1) A plot for the distribution of predicted TFBS along the DNA sequence, 2) A table listing location, score and motif for each putative binding site, and 3) Clusters of predicted binding sites. PMSearch also provides links for accessing clusters of PFMs that are similar to the input PFMs to facilitate complicated promoter analysis.
PMSearch is available for free at
PMCID: PMC1891680  PMID: 17597879
position frequency matrix; motif; transcription factor binding site; web server
25.  Pinpointing transcription factor binding sites from ChIP-seq data with SeqSite 
BMC Systems Biology  2011;5(Suppl 2):S3.
Chromatin immunoprecipitation combined with the next-generation DNA sequencing technologies (ChIP-seq) becomes a key approach for detecting genome-wide sets of genomic sites bound by proteins, such as transcription factors (TFs). Several methods and open-source tools have been developed to analyze ChIP-seq data. However, most of them are designed for detecting TF binding regions instead of accurately locating transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs). It is still challenging to pinpoint TFBSs directly from ChIP-seq data, especially in regions with closely spaced binding events.
With the aim to pinpoint TFBSs at a high resolution, we propose a novel method named SeqSite, implementing a two-step strategy: detecting tag-enriched regions first and pinpointing binding sites in the detected regions. The second step is done by modeling the tag density profile, locating TFBSs on each strand with a least-squares model fitting strategy, and merging the detections from the two strands. Experiments on simulation data show that SeqSite can locate most of the binding sites more than 40-bp from each other. Applications on three human TF ChIP-seq datasets demonstrate the advantage of SeqSite for its higher resolution in pinpointing binding sites compared with existing methods.
We have developed a computational tool named SeqSite, which can pinpoint both closely spaced and isolated binding sites, and consequently improves the resolution of TFBS detection from ChIP-seq data.
PMCID: PMC3287483  PMID: 22784574

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