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Open Access Research article

Searching ChIP-seq genomic islands for combinatorial regulatory codes in mouse embryonic stem cells

Gong Chen and Qing Zhou*

Author Affiliations

Department of Statistics, University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, USA

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:515  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-515

Published: 20 October 2011

Abstract

Background

To facilitate deciphering underlying transcriptional regulatory circuits in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, recent ChIP-seq data provided genome-wide binding locations of several key transcription factors (TFs); meanwhile, existing efforts profiled gene expression in ES cells and in their early differentiated state. It has been shown that the gene expression profiles are correlated with the binding of these TFs. However, it remains unclear whether other TFs, referred to as cofactors, participate the gene regulation by collaborating with the ChIP-seq TFs.

Results

Based on our analyses of the ES gene expression profiles and binding sites of potential cofactors in vicinity of the ChIP-seq TF binding locations, we identified a list of co-binding features that show significantly different characteristics between different gene expression patterns (activated or repressed gene expression in ES cells) at a false discovery rate of 10%. Gene classification with a subset of the identified features achieved up to 20% improvement over classification only based on the ChIP-seq TFs. More than 1/3 of reasoned regulatory roles of cofactor candidates involved in these features are supported by existing literatures. Finally, the predicted target genes of the majority candidates present expected expression change in another independent data set, which serves as a supplementary validation of these candidates.

Conclusions

Our results revealed a list of combinatorial genomic features that are significantly associated with gene expression in ES cells, suggesting potential cofactors of the ChIP-seq TFs for gene regulation.