Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Bioinformatics and BioMed Central.

This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 2009 AMIA Summit on Translational Bioinformatics

Open Access Proceedings

A systems biology approach to the identification and analysis of transcriptional regulatory networks in osteocytes

Angela K Dean1*, Stephen E Harris23, Ivo Kalajzic4 and Jianhua Ruan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Computer Science, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA

2 Department of Periodontics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA

3 Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA

4 Department of Reconstructive Sciences, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT06030, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Bioinformatics 2009, 10(Suppl 9):S5  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-10-S9-S5

Published: 17 September 2009



The osteocyte is a type of cell that appears to be one of the key endocrine regulators of bone metabolism and a key responder to initiate bone formation and remodeling. Identifying the regulatory networks in osteocytes may lead to new therapies for osteoporosis and loss of bone.


Using microarray, we identified 269 genes over-expressed in osteocyte, many of which have known functions in bone and muscle differentiation and contractility. We determined the evolutionarily conserved and enriched TF binding sites in the 5 kb promoter regions of these genes. Using this data, a transcriptional regulatory network was constructed and subsequently partitioned to identify cis-regulatory modules.


Our results show that many osteocyte-specific genes, including two well-known osteocyte markers DMP1 and Sost, have highly conserved clustering of muscle-related cis-regulatory modules, thus supporting the concept that a muscle-related gene network is important in osteocyte biology and may play a role in contractility and dynamic movements of the osteocyte.