Background: Transcription factors (TFs) act downstream of the major signalling pathways functioning as master regulators of cell fate. Their activity is tightly regulated at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational level. Proteins modifying TF activity are not easily identified by experimental high-throughput methods. Results: We developed a computational strategy, called Differential Multi-Information (DMI), to infer post-translational modulators of a transcription factor from a compendium of gene expression profiles (GEPs). DMI is built on the hypothesis that the modulator of a TF (i.e. kinase/phosphatases), when expressed in the cell, will cause the TF target genes to be co-expressed. On the contrary, when the modulator is not expressed, the TF will be inactive resulting in a loss of co-regulation across its target genes. DMI detects the occurrence of changes in target gene co-regulation for each candidate modulator, using a measure called Multi-Information. We validated the DMI approach on a compendium of 5,372 GEPs showing its predictive ability in correctly identifying kinases regulating the activity of 14 different transcription factors. Conclusions: DMI can be used in combination with experimental approaches as high-throughput screening to efficiently improve both pathway and target discovery. An on-line web-tool enabling the user to use DMI to identify post-transcriptional modulators of a transcription factor of interest che be found at http://dmi.tigem.it .
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Mathematics
- Structural Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications