Article

A graph-based motif detection algorithm models complex nucleotide dependencies in transcription factor binding sites.

Department of Biochemistry, Stanford University, CA 94305, USA.
Nucleic Acids Research (Impact Factor: 8.81). 02/2006; 34(20):5730-9. DOI: 10.1093/nar/gkl585
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Given a set of known binding sites for a specific transcription factor, it is possible to build a model of the transcription factor binding site, usually called a motif model, and use this model to search for other sites that bind the same transcription factor. Typically, this search is performed using a position-specific scoring matrix (PSSM), also known as a position weight matrix. In this paper we analyze a set of eukaryotic transcription factor binding sites and show that there is extensive clustering of similar k-mers in eukaryotic motifs, owing to both functional and evolutionary constraints. The apparent limitations of probabilistic models in representing complex nucleotide dependencies lead us to a graph-based representation of motifs. When deciding whether a candidate k-mer is part of a motif or not, we base our decision not on how well the k-mer conforms to a model of the motif as a whole, but how similar it is to specific, known k-mers in the motif. We elucidate the reasons why we expect graph-based methods to perform well on motif data. Our MotifScan algorithm shows greatly improved performance over the prevalent PSSM-based method for the detection of eukaryotic motifs.

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