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Distinct Tissue-specific Transcriptional Regulation Revealed By Gene Regulatory Networks In Maize

Title: Distinct Tissue-specific Transcriptional Regulation Revealed By Gene Regulatory Networks In Maize.
Name(s): Huang, Ji, author
Zheng, Juefei, author
Yuan, Hui, author
McGinnis, Karen, author
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Journal Article
Journal Article
Date Issued: 2018-06-07
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Background: Transcription factors (TFs) are proteins that can bind to DNA sequences and regulate gene expression. Many TFs are master regulators in cells that contribute to tissue-specific and cell-type-specific gene expression patterns in eukaryotes. Maize has been a model organism for over one hundred years, but little is known about its tissue-specific gene regulation through TFs. In this study, we used a network approach to elucidate gene regulatory networks (GRNs) in four tissues (leaf, root, SAM and seed) in maize. We utilized GENIE3, a machine-learning algorithm combined with large quantity of RNA-Seq expression data to construct four tissue-specific GRNs. Unlike some other techniques, this approach is not limited by high-quality Position Weighed Matrix (PWM), and can therefore predict GRNs for over 2000 TFs in maize. Results: Although many TFs were expressed across multiple tissues, a multi-tiered analysis predicted tissue-specific regulatory functions for many transcription factors. Some well-studied TFs emerged within the four tissue-specific GRNs, and the GRN predictions matched expectations based upon published results for many of these examples. Our GRNs were also validated by ChIP-Seq datasets (KN1, FEA4 and O2). Key TFs were identified for each tissue and matched expectations for key regulators in each tissue, including GO enrichment and identity with known regulatory factors for that tissue. We also found functional modules in each network by clustering analysis with the MCL algorithm. Conclusions: By combining publicly available genome-wide expression data and network analysis, we can uncover GRNs at tissue-level resolution in maize. Since ChIP-Seq and PWMs are still limited in several model organisms, our study provides a uniform platform that can be adapted to any species with genome-wide expression data to construct GRNs. We also present a publicly available database, maize tissue-specific GRN (mGRN,, for easy querying. All source code and data are available at Github (
Identifier: FSU_libsubv1_wos_000434971800002 (IID), 10.1186/s12870-018-1329-y (DOI)
Keywords: dynamics, Gene expression, protein, inference, genome, Network, dna, arabidopsis-thaliana, Bioinformatics, coexpression network, Database, duplicate genes, expression patterns, Machine learning, Maize, meristems, Systems biology, Transcription factor, Transcriptional regulation
Publication Note: The publisher’s version of record is available at
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU
Is Part Of: Bmc Plant Biology.
Issue: vol. 18

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Huang, J., Zheng, J., Yuan, H., & McGinnis, K. (2018). Distinct Tissue-specific Transcriptional Regulation Revealed By Gene Regulatory Networks In Maize. Bmc Plant Biology. Retrieved from