Ranges of control in the transcriptional regulation of Escherichia coli
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BMC Systems Biology 2009, 3:119 doi:10.1186/1752-0509-3-119Published: 24 December 2009
The positioning of genes in the genome is an important evolutionary degree of freedom for organizing gene regulation. Statistical properties of these distributions have been studied particularly in relation to the transcriptional regulatory network. The systematics of gene-gene distances then become important sources of information on the control, which different biological mechanisms exert on gene expression.
Here we study a set of categories, which has to our knowledge not been analyzed before. We distinguish between genes that do not participate in the transcriptional regulatory network (i.e. that are according to current knowledge not producing transcription factors and do not possess binding sites for transcription factors in their regulatory region), and genes that via transcription factors either are regulated by or regulate other genes. We find that the two types of genes ("isolated" and "regulatory" genes) show a clear statistical repulsion and have different ranges of correlations. In particular we find that isolated genes have a preference for shorter intergenic distances.
These findings support previous evidence from gene expression patterns for two distinct logical types of control, namely digital control (i.e. network-based control mediated by dedicated transcription factors) and analog control (i.e. control based on genome structure and mediated by neighborhood on the genome).