Functional cis-regulatory genomics for systems biology

Jongmin Nam, Ping Dong, Ryan Tarpine, Sorin Istrail, Eric H. Davidson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Gene expression is controlled by interactions between trans-regulatory factors and cis-regulatory DNA sequences, and these interactions constitute the essential functional linkages of gene regulatory networks (GRNs). Validation of GRN models requires experimental cis-regulatory tests of predicted linkages to authenticate their identities and proposed functions. However, cis-regulatory analysis is, at present, at a severe bottleneck in genomic system biology because of the demanding experimental methodologies currently in use for discovering cis-regulatory modules (CRMs), in the genome, and for measuring their activities. Here we demonstrate a high-throughput approach to both discovery and quantitative characterization of CRMs. The unique aspect is use of DNA sequence tags to "barcode" CRM expression constructs, which can then be mixed, injected together into sea urchin eggs, and subsequently deconvolved. This method has increased the rate of cis-regulatory analysis by>100-fold compared with conventional one-by-one reporter assays. The utility of the DNA-tag reporters was demonstrated by the rapid discovery of 81 active CRMs from 37 previously unexplored sea urchin genes. We then obtained simultaneous high-resolution temporal characterizationof the regulatory activities of more than 80CRMs. Onaverage 2-3 CRMs were discovered per gene. Comparison of endogenous gene expression profiles with those of the CRMs recovered from each gene showed that, formost cases, at least one CRM is active in each phase of endogenous expression, suggesting that CRM recovery was comprehensive. This approach will qualitatively alter the practice of GRN construction as well as validation, and will impact many additional areas of regulatory system biology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3930-3935
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 23 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • High-throughput discovery
  • Sea urchin gene regulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Functional cis-regulatory genomics for systems biology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this