Unraveling the functions of uncharacterized transcription factors in Escherichia coli using ChIP-exo

Ye Gao, Hyun Gyu Lim, Hans Verkler, Richard Szubin, Daniel Quach, Irina Rodionova, Ke Chen, James T. Yurkovich, Byung Kwan Cho, Bernhard O. Palsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Bacteria regulate gene expression to adapt to changing environments through transcriptional regulatory networks (TRNs). Although extensively studied, no TRN is fully characterized since the identity and activity of all the transcriptional regulators comprising a TRN are not known. Here, we experimentally evaluate 40 uncharacterized proteins in Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655, which were computationally predicted to be transcription factors (TFs). First, we used a multiplexed chromatin immunoprecipitation method combined with lambda exonuclease digestion (multiplexed ChIP-exo) assay to characterize binding sites for these candidate TFs; 34 of them were found to be DNA-binding proteins. We then compared the relative location between binding sites and RNA polymerase (RNAP). We found 48% (283/588) overlap between the TFs and RNAP. Finally, we used these data to infer potential functions for 10 of the 34 TFs with validated DNA binding sites and consensus binding motifs. Taken together, this study: (i) significantly expands the number of confirmed TFs to 276, close to the estimated total of about 280 TFs; (ii) provides putative functions for the newly discovered TFs and (iii) confirms the functions of four representative TFs through mutant phenotypes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number17
Pages (from-to)9696-9710
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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