Animal transcription networks as highly connected, quantitative continua

Dev Cell. 2011 Oct 18;21(4):611-26. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2011.09.008.


To understand how transcription factors function, it is essential to determine the range of genes that they each bind and regulate in vivo. Here I review evidence that most animal transcription factors each bind to a majority of genes over a quantitative series of DNA occupancy levels. These continua span functional, quasifunctional, and nonfunctional DNA binding events. Factor regulatory specificities are distinguished by quantitative differences in DNA occupancy patterns. I contrast these results with models for transcription networks that define discrete sets of direct target and nontarget genes and consequently do not fully capture the complexity observed in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Protein Binding
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • Transcription Factors