Integrated network analysis reveals distinct regulatory roles of transcription factors and microRNAs

Yu GuoHaiyuan Yu


Analysis of transcription regulatory networks has revealed many principal features that govern gene expression regulation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as another major class of gene regulators that influence gene expression post-transcriptionally, but there remains a need to assess quantitatively their global roles in gene regulation. Here, we have constructed an integrated gene regulatory network comprised of transcription factors (TFs), miRNAs, and their target genes and analyzed the effect of regulation on target mRNA expression, target protein expression, protein-protein interaction, and disease association. We found that while target genes regulated by the same TFs tend to be co-expressed, co-regulation by miRNAs does not lead to co-expression assessed at either mRNA or protein levels. Analysis of interacting protein pairs in the regulatory network revealed that compared to genes co-regulated by miRNAs, a higher fraction of genes co-regulated by TFs encode proteins in the same complex. Although these results suggest that genes co-regulated by TFs are more functionally related than those co-regulated by miRNAs, genes that share either TF or miRNA regulators are more likely to cause the same disease. Further analysis on ...Continue Reading


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