in silico Plants, 2020
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Abstract Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) are defined by a cascade of transcriptional events by which signals, such as hormones or environmental cues, change development. To understand these networks, it is necessary to link specific transcription factors (TFs) to the downstream gene targets whose expression they regulate. Although multiple methods provide information on the targets of a single TF, moving from groups of co-expressed genes to the TF that controls them is more difficult. To facilitate this bottom-up approach, we have developed a web application named TF DEACoN. This application uses a publicly available Arabidopsis thaliana DNA Affinity Purification (DAP-Seq) dataset to search for TFs that show enriched binding to groups of co-regulated genes. We used TF DEACoN to examine groups of transcripts regulated by treatment with the ethylene precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), using a transcriptional dataset performed with high temporal resolution. We demonstrate the utility of this application when co-regulated genes are divided by timing of response or cell-type specific information, which provides more information on TF/target relationships than when less defined and larger groups of co-regulated genes are used. This approach predicted TFs that may participate in ethylene-modulated root development including the TF NAM (NO APICAL MERISTEM). We used a genetic approach to show that a mutation in NAM reduces the negative regulation of lateral root development by ACC. The combination of filtering and TF DEACoN used here can be applied to any group of co-regulated genes to predict GRNs that control coordinated transcriptional responses.