Many studies have identified binding preferences for transcription factors (TFs), but few have yielded predictive models of how combinations of transcription factor binding sites generate specific levels of gene expression. Synthetic promoters have emerged as powerful tools for generating quantitative data to parameterize models of combinatorial cis-regulation. We sought to improve the accuracy of such models by quantifying the occupancy of TFs on synthetic promoters in vivo and incorporating these data into statistical thermodynamic models of cis-regulation. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation-seq, we measured the occupancy of Gcn4 and Cbf1 in synthetic promoter libraries composed of binding sites for Gcn4, Cbf1, Met31/Met32 and Nrg1. We measured the occupancy of these two TFs and the expression levels of all promoters in two growth conditions. Models parameterized using only expression data predicted expression but failed to identify several interactions between TFs. In contrast, models parameterized with occupancy and expression data predicted expression data, and also revealed Gcn4 self-cooperativity and a negative interaction between Gcn4 and Nrg1. Occupancy data also allowed us to distinguish between competing regulatory mechanisms for the factor Gcn4. Our framework for combining occupancy and expression data produces predictive models that better reflect the mechanisms underlying combinatorial cis-regulation of gene expression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2224-2234
Number of pages11
JournalNucleic acids research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2014


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