Identification of transcriptional regulatory regions and tracing their internal organization are important for understanding the eukaryotic cell machinery. Cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) of higher eukaryotes are believed to possess a regulatory 'grammar', or preferred arrangement of binding sites, that is crucial for proper regulation and thus tends to be evolutionarily conserved. Here, we present a method CORECLUST (COnservative REgulatory CLUster STructure) that predicts CRMs based on a set of positional weight matrices. Given regulatory regions of orthologous and/or co-regulated genes, CORECLUST constructs a CRM model by revealing the conserved rules that describe the relative location of binding sites. The constructed model may be consequently used for the genome-wide prediction of similar CRMs, and thus detection of co-regulated genes, and for the investigation of the regulatory grammar of the system. Compared with related methods, CORECLUST shows better performance at identification of CRMs conferring muscle-specific gene expression in vertebrates and early-developmental CRMs in Drosophila.
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