Structure-based prediction of transcription factor binding specificity using an integrative energy function

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Transcription factors (TFs) regulate gene expression through binding to specific target DNA sites. Accurate annotation of transcription factor binding sites (TFBSs) at genome scale represents an essential step toward our understanding of gene regulation networks. In this article, we present a structure-based method for computational prediction of TFBSs using a novel, integrative energy (IE) function. The new energy function combines a multibody (MB) knowledge-based potential and two atomic energy terms (hydrogen bond and π interaction) that might not be accurately captured by the knowledge-based potential owing to the mean force nature and low count problem. We applied the new energy function to the TFBS prediction using a non-redundant dataset that consists of TFs from 12 different families. Our results show that the new IE function improves the prediction accuracy over the knowledge-based, statistical potentials, especially for homeodomain TFs, the second largest TF family in mammals.

Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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