Genomic Methods for Studying the Post-Translational Regulation of Transcription Factors
The spatiotemporal coordination of gene expression is a fundamental process in cellular biology. Gene expression is regulated, in large part, by sequence-specific transcription factors that bind to DNA regions in the proximity of each target gene. Transcription factor activity and specificity are, in turn, regulated post-translationally by protein-modifying enzymes. High-throughput methods exist to probe specific steps of this process, such as protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions, but few computational tools exist to integrate this information in a principled, model-oriented manner. In this work, I develop several computational tools for studying the functional implications of transcription factor modification. I establish the first publicly accessible database for known and predicted regulatory circuits that encompass modifying enzymes, transcription factors, and transcriptional targets. I also develop a model-based method for integrating heterogeneous genomic and proteomic data for the inference of modification-dependent transcriptional regulatory networks. The model-based method is thoroughly validated as a reliable and accurate computational genomic tool. Additionally, I propose and demonstrate fundamental improvements to computational proteomic methods for identifying modified protein forms. In summary, this work contributes critical methodological advances to the field of regulatory network inference.
Stephen R. Master