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Open Access Research article

Towards biological characters of interactions between transcription factors and their DNA targets in mammals

Guangyong Zheng12*, Qi Liu23, Guohui Ding12, Chaochun Wei23* and Yixue Li12*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Systems Biology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Yueyang Road, Shanghai, 200031, China

2 Shanghai Center for Bioinformation Technology, 100 Qinzhou Road, Shanghai, 200235, China

3 School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, 800 Dongchuan Road, Shanghai, 200240, China

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:388  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-388

Published: 13 August 2012



In post-genomic era, the study of transcriptional regulation is pivotal to decode genetic information. Transcription factors (TFs) are central proteins for transcriptional regulation, and interactions between TFs and their DNA targets (TFBSs) are important for downstream genes’ expression. However, the lack of knowledge about interactions between TFs and TFBSs is still baffling people to investigate the mechanism of transcription.


To expand the knowledge about interactions between TFs and TFBSs, three biological features (sequence feature, structure feature, and evolution feature) were utilized to build TFBS identification models for studying binding preference between TFs and their DNA targets in mammals. Results show that each feature does have fairly well performance to capture TFBSs, and the hybrid model combined all three features is more robust for TFBS identification. Subsequently, correspondence between TFs and their TFBSs was investigated to explore interactions among them in mammals. Results indicate that TFs and TFBSs are reciprocal in sequence, structure, and evolution level.


Our work demonstrates that, to some extent, TFs and TFBSs have developed a coevolutionary relationship in order to keep their physical binding and maintain their regulatory functions. In summary, our work will help understand transcriptional regulation and interpret binding mechanism between proteins and DNAs.