Research Summary

Understanding the role of low-occupancy transcription factor binding sites

Transcription factors (TFs) play a pivotal role in transcriptional regulation by binding DNA at specific sites. A TF does not occupy all its DNA counterparts with the same strength and so far, much work has been done on characterizing the functionality of strong or high-occupancy binding sites. However, low-occupancy sites do exist and a handful of them have been shown to be instrumental in transcriptional regulation. I am interested in characterizing the function of weakly bound TF binding sites genome-wide. I plan to build a computational model based on my findings to identify novel regulatory regions in the genome. Most current tools that identify regulatory regions rely on strong matches to binding motifs, missing many functional regions that harbor weak sites. Considering the growing number of mutations in regulatory regions being linked to human diseases, having such a model will be beneficial to both, the biologist and the clinical researcher community.