The ability of transcription factors to differentially regulate gene expression is a crucial component of the mechanism underlying inversion, a frequently observed genetic interaction pattern

Saman Amini, Annika Jacobsen, Olga Ivanova, Philip Lijnzaad, Jaap Heringa, Frank C.P. Holstege, K. Anton Feenstra, Patrick Kemmeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Genetic interactions, a phenomenon whereby combinations of mutations lead to unexpected effects, reflect how cellular processes are wired and play an important role in complex genetic diseases. Understanding the molecular basis of genetic interactions is crucial for deciphering pathway organization as well as understanding the relationship between genetic variation and disease. Several hypothetical molecular mechanisms have been linked to different genetic interaction types. However, differences in genetic interaction patterns and their underlying mechanisms have not yet been compared systematically between different functional gene classes. Here, differences in the occurrence and types of genetic interactions are compared for two classes, gene-specific transcription factors (GSTFs) and signaling genes (kinases and phospha-tases). Genome-wide gene expression data for 63 single and double deletion mutants in baker’s yeast reveals that the two most common genetic interaction patterns are buffering and inversion. Buffering is typically associated with redundancy and is well understood. In inversion, genes show opposite behavior in the double mutant compared to the corresponding single mutants. The underlying mechanism is poorly understood. Although both classes show buffering and inversion patterns, the prevalence of inversion is much stronger in GSTFs. To decipher potential mechanisms, a Petri Net modeling approach was employed, where genes are represented as nodes and relationships between genes as edges. This allowed over 9 million possible three and four node models to be exhaustively enumerated. The models show that a quantitative difference in interaction strength is a strict requirement for obtaining inversion. In addition, this difference is frequently accompanied with a second gene that shows buffering. Taken together, these results provide a mechanistic explanation for inversion. Furthermore, the ability of transcription factors to differentially regulate expression of their targets provides a likely explanation why inversion is more prevalent for GSTFs compared to kinases and phosphatases.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1007061
Pages (from-to)1-27
Number of pages27
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2019

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