Background: Transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene transcription and play pivotal roles in various biological processes such as development, cell cycle progression, cell differentiation and tumor suppression. Identifying cis-regulatory elements associated with TF-encoding genes is a crucial step in understanding gene regulatory networks. To this end, we have used a comparative genomics approach to identify putative cis-regulatory elements associated with TF-encoding genes in vertebrates.
Description: We have created a database named TFCONES (Transcription Factor Genes & Associated COnserved Noncoding ElementS) (http://tfcones.fugu-sg.org) which contains all human, mouse and fugu TF-encoding genes and conserved noncoding elements (CNEs) associated with them. The CNEs were identified by gene-by-gene alignments of orthologous TF-encoding gene loci using MLAGAN. We also predicted putative transcription factor binding sites within the CNEs. A significant proportion of human-fugu CNEs contain experimentally defined binding sites for transcriptional activators and repressors, indicating that a majority of the CNEs may function as transcriptional regulatory elements. The TF-encoding genes that are involved in nervous system development are generally enriched for human-fugu CNEs. Users can retrieve TF-encoding genes and their associated CNEs by conducting a keyword search or by selecting a family of DNA-binding proteins.
Conclusion: The conserved noncoding elements identified in TFCONES represent a catalog of highly prioritized putative cis-regulatory elements of TF-encoding genes and are candidates for functional assay.