Building High-Confidence Gene Regulatory Networks by Integrating Validated TF–Target Gene Interactions Using ConnecTF

Ji Huang, Manpreet S. Katari, Che Lun Juang, Gloria M. Coruzzi, Matthew D. Brooks

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Many methods are now available to identify or predict the target genes of transcription factors (TFs) in plants. These include experimental approaches such as in vivo or in vitro TF-target gene-binding assays and various methods for identifying regulated targets in mutants, transgenics, or isolated plant cells. In addition, computational approaches are used to infer TF-target gene interactions from the regulatory elements or gene expression changes across treatments. While each of these approaches has now been applied to a large number of TFs from many species, each method has its own limitations which necessitates that multiple data types are integrated to build the most accurate representation of the gene regulatory networks operating in plants. To make the analyses of TF-target interaction datasets available to the broader research community, we have developed the ConnecTF web platform ( ). In this chapter, we describe how ConnecTF can be used to integrate validated and predicted TF-target gene interactions in order to dissect the regulatory role of TFs in developmental and stress response pathways. Using as our examples KN1 and RA1, two well-characterized maize TFs involved in developing floral tissue, we demonstrate how ConnecTF can be used to (1) compare the target genes between TFs, (2) identify direct vs. indirect targets by combining TF-binding and TF-regulation datasets, (3) chart and visualize network paths between TFs and their downstream targets, and (4) prune inferred user networks for high-confidence predicted interactions using validated TF-target gene data. Finally, we provide instructions for setting up a private version of ConnecTF that enables research groups to store and analyze their own TF-target gene interaction datasets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMethods in Molecular Biology
PublisherHumana Press Inc.
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2023

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745
ISSN (Electronic)1940-6029


  • ChIP-seq
  • DNA-binding cis-motifs
  • Gene regulatory networks (GRNs)
  • Transcription factors (TFs)
  • Validated TF-target interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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