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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Prioritization of gene regulatory interactions from large-scale modules in yeast

Ho-Joon Lee1*, Thomas Manke1*, Ricardo Bringas2 and Martin Vingron1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Computational Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, 14195 Berlin, Germany

2 Centro de Ingenieria Genetica y Biotecnolgia, Cubanacan, CP 6162, La Habana, Cuba

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BMC Bioinformatics 2008, 9:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2105-9-32

Published: 22 January 2008



The identification of groups of co-regulated genes and their transcription factors, called transcriptional modules, has been a focus of many studies about biological systems. While methods have been developed to derive numerous modules from genome-wide data, individual links between regulatory proteins and target genes still need experimental verification. In this work, we aim to prioritize regulator-target links within transcriptional modules based on three types of large-scale data sources.


Starting with putative transcriptional modules from ChIP-chip data, we first derive modules in which target genes show both expression and function coherence. The most reliable regulatory links between transcription factors and target genes are established by identifying intersection of target genes in coherent modules for each enriched functional category. Using a combination of genome-wide yeast data in normal growth conditions and two different reference datasets, we show that our method predicts regulatory interactions with significantly higher predictive power than ChIP-chip binding data alone. A comparison with results from other studies highlights that our approach provides a reliable and complementary set of regulatory interactions. Based on our results, we can also identify functionally interacting target genes, for instance, a group of co-regulated proteins related to cell wall synthesis. Furthermore, we report novel conserved binding sites of a glycoprotein-encoding gene, CIS3, regulated by Swi6-Swi4 and Ndd1-Fkh2-Mcm1 complexes.


We provide a simple method to prioritize individual TF-gene interactions from large-scale transcriptional modules. In comparison with other published works, we predict a complementary set of regulatory interactions which yields a similar or higher prediction accuracy at the expense of sensitivity. Therefore, our method can serve as an alternative approach to prioritization for further experimental studies.