Motivation

Transcriptional regulators play a major role in most biological processes. Alterations in their activities are associated with a variety of diseases and in particular with tumor development and progression. Hence, it is important to assess the effects of deregulated regulators on pathological processes.

Results

Here, we present REGulator-Gene Association Enrichment (REGGAE), a novel method for the identification of key transcriptional regulators that have a significant effect on the expression of a given set of genes, e.g. genes that are differentially expressed between two sample groups. REGGAE uses a Kolmogorov–Smirnov-like test statistic that implicitly combines associations between regulators and their target genes with an enrichment approach to prioritize the influence of transcriptional regulators. We evaluated our method in two different application scenarios, which demonstrate that REGGAE is well suited for uncovering the influence of transcriptional regulators and is a valuable tool for the elucidation of complex regulatory mechanisms.

Availability and implementation

REGGAE is freely available at https://regulatortrail.bioinf.uni-sb.de.

Supplementary information

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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