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Journal Article

Determinants of correlated expression of transcription factors and their target genes


Walther,  D.
BioinformaticsCIG, Infrastructure Groups and Service Units, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology, Max Planck Society;

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Zaborowski, A. B., & Walther, D. (2020). Determinants of correlated expression of transcription factors and their target genes. Nucleic Acids Research, 48(20), 11347-11369. doi:10.1093/nar/gkaa927.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-7103-6
While transcription factors (TFs) are known to regulate the expression of their target genes (TGs), only a weak correlation of expression between TFs and their TGs has generally been observed. As lack of correlation could be caused by additional layers of regulation, the overall correlation distribution may hide the presence of a subset of regulatory TF–TG pairs with tight expression coupling. Using reported regulatory pairs in the plant Arabidopsis thaliana along with comprehensive gene expression information and testing a wide array of molecular features, we aimed to discern the molecular determinants of high expression correlation of TFs and their TGs. TF-family assignment, stress-response process involvement, short genomic distances of the TF-binding sites to the transcription start site of their TGs, few required protein-protein-interaction connections to establish physical interactions between the TF and polymerase-II, unambiguous TF-binding motifs, increased numbers of miRNA target-sites in TF-mRNAs, and a young evolutionary age of TGs were found particularly indicative of high TF–TG correlation. The modulating roles of post-transcriptional, post-translational processes, and epigenetic factors have been characterized as well. Our study reveals that regulatory pairs with high expression coupling are associated with specific molecular determinants.