Monthly Archives: May 2016


Identification of High-Impact cis-Regulatory Mutations Using Transcription Factor Specific Random Forest Models

Our next meeting will be at 12:30 on June 6th, in room 3160 of the Discovery building. Our Selected paper is Identification of High-Impact cis-Regulatory Mutations Using Transcription Factor Specific Random Forest Models. The abstract is as follows.

Cancer genomes contain vast amounts of somatic mutations, many of which are passenger mutations not involved in oncogenesis. Whereas driver mutations in protein-coding genes can be distinguished from passenger mutations based on their recurrence, non-coding mutations are usually not recurrent at the same position. Therefore, it is still unclear how to identify cis-regulatory driver mutations, particularly when chromatin data from the same patient is not available, thus relying only on sequence and expression information. Here we use machine-learning methods to predict functional regulatory regions using sequence information alone, and compare the predicted activity of the mutated region with the reference sequence. This way we define the Predicted Regulatory Impact of a Mutation in an Enhancer (PRIME). We find that the recently identified driver mutation in the TAL1 enhancer has a high PRIME score, representing a “gain-of-target” for MYB, whereas the highly recurrent TERT promoter mutation has a surprisingly low PRIME score. We trained Random Forest models for 45 cancer-related transcription factors, and used these to score variations in the HeLa genome and somatic mutations across more than five hundred cancer genomes. Each model predicts only a small fraction of non-coding mutations with a potential impact on the function of the encompassing regulatory region. Nevertheless, as these few candidate driver mutations are often linked to gains in chromatin activity and gene expression, they may contribute to the oncogenic program by altering the expression levels of specific oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes.

We well all who can join us for this discussion. Feel free to begin that discussion in the comments section below.


Predicting tissue specific transcription factor binding sites

Our selection for our meeting on the 16th of May is Predicting tissue specific transcription factor binding sites. We will meet as usual in room 3160 of the Discovery building at 12:30 PM. The abstract is as follows.

Background

Studies of gene regulation often utilize genome-wide predictions of transcription factor (TF) binding sites. Most existing prediction methods are based on sequence information alone, ignoring biological contexts such as developmental stages and tissue types. Experimental methods to study in vivo binding, including ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq, can only study one transcription factor in a single cell type and under a specific condition in each experiment, and therefore cannot scale to determine the full set of regulatory interactions in mammalian transcriptional regulatory networks.

Results

We developed a new computational approach, PIPES, for predicting tissue-specific TF binding. PIPES integrates in vitro protein binding microarrays (PBMs), sequence conservation and tissue-specific epigenetic (DNase I hypersensitivity) information. We demonstrate that PIPES improves over existing methods on distinguishing between in vivo bound and unbound sequences using ChIP-seq data for 11 mouse TFs. In addition, our predictions are in good agreement with current knowledge of tissue-specific TF regulation.

Conclusions

We provide a systematic map of computationally predicted tissue-specific binding targets for 284 mouse TFs across 55 tissue/cell types. Such comprehensive resource is useful for researchers studying gene regulation.

We look forward to seeing all who can attend and feel free to begin our discussion in the comments section below.


Inferring causal molecular networks: empirical assessment through a community-based method. 1

For our next Journal Club Meeting we will read Inferring causal molecular networks: empirical assessment through a community-based method.. The abstract is as follows:

It remains unclear whether causal, rather than merely correlational, relationships in molecular networks can be inferred in complex biological settings. Here we describe the HPN-DREAM network inference challenge, which focused on learning causal influences in signaling networks. We used phosphoprotein data from cancer cell lines as well as in silico data from a nonlinear dynamical model. Using the phosphoprotein data, we scored more than 2,000 networks submitted by challenge participants. The networks spanned 32 biological contexts and were scored in terms of causal validity with respect to unseen interventional data. A number of approaches were effective, and incorporating known biology was generally advantageous. Additional sub-challenges considered time-course prediction and visualization. Our results suggest that learning causal relationships may be feasible in complex settings such as disease states. Furthermore, our scoring approach provides a practical way to empirically assess inferred molecular networks in a causal sense.

We look forward to seeing all who can attend and feel free to extend our discussion into the comments section below.