TFClass: an expandable hierarchical classification of human transcription factors

Nucleic Acids Res. 2013 Jan;41(Database issue):D165-70. doi: 10.1093/nar/gks1123. Epub 2012 Nov 24.


TFClass ( provides a comprehensive classification of human transcription factors based on their DNA-binding domains. Transcription factors constitute a large functional family of proteins directly regulating the activity of genes. Most of them are sequence-specific DNA-binding proteins, thus reading out the information encoded in cis-regulatory DNA elements of promoters, enhancers and other regulatory regions of a genome. TFClass is a database that classifies human transcription factors by a six-level classification schema, four of which are abstractions according to different criteria, while the fifth level represents TF genes and the sixth individual gene products. Altogether, nine superclasses have been identified, comprising 40 classes and 111 families. Counted by genes, 1558 human TFs have been classified so far or >2900 different TFs when including their isoforms generated by alternative splicing or protein processing events. With this classification, we hope to provide a basis for deciphering protein-DNA recognition codes; moreover, it can be used for constructing expanded transcriptional networks by inferring additional TF-target gene relations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Databases, Protein*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, Protein
  • Transcription Factors / chemistry
  • Transcription Factors / classification*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Transcription Factors