Using transcription modules to identify expression clusters perturbed in Williams-Beuren Syndrome

Charlotte N. Henrichsen, Gábor Csárdi, Marie Thérèse Zabot, Carmela Fusco, Sven Bergmann, Giuseppe Merla, Alexandre Reymond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The genetic dissection of the phenotypes associated with Williams-Beuren Syndrome (WBS) is advancing thanks to the study of individuals carrying typical or atypical structural rearrangements, as well as in vitro and animal studies. However, little is known about the global dysregulations caused by the WBS deletion. We profiled the transcriptomes of skin fibroblasts from WBS patients and compared them to matched controls. We identified 868 differentially expressed genesthat were significantly enriched in extracellular matrix genes, major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes, as well as genes in which the products localize to the postsynaptic membrane. We then used public expression datasets from human fibroblasts to establish transcription modules, sets of genes coexpressed in this cell type. We identified those sets in which the average gene expression was altered in WBS samples. Dysregulated modules are often interconnected and share multiple common genes, suggesting that intricate regulatory networks connected by a few central genes are disturbed in WBS. This modular approach increases the power to identify pathways dysregulated in WBS patients, thus providing a testable set of additional candidates for genes and their interactions that modulate the WBS phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1001054
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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