Marc Jones



  1. Jones, M., & Vandepoele, K. (2020). Identification and evolution of gene regulatory networks : insights from comparative studies in plants. CURRENT OPINION IN PLANT BIOLOGY, 54, 42–48.
    The availability of genome sequences, genome-wide assays of transcription factor binding, and accessible chromatin maps have unveiled gene regulatory landscapes in plants. This understanding has ushered in comparative gene regulatory network studies that assess network rewiring between species, across time, and between biological tissues. Comparisons of cis-regulatory elements across the plant kingdom have uncovered examples of conserved sequences, but also of divergence, indicating that selective pressures can vary in different plant families. Transcription factor duplication, followed by spatiotemporal expression divergence of the duplicates, also appears to be a key mechanism of network evolution. Here, we review recent literature describing the regulation of gene expression in plants, and how comparative studies provide insights into how these regulatory interactions change and lead to gene regulatory network rewiring.
  2. Kulkarni, S. R., Jones, M., & Vandepoele, K. (2019). Enhanced maps of transcription factor binding sites improve regulatory networks learned from accessible chromatin data. PLANT PHYSIOLOGY, 181(2), 412–425.
    Determining where transcription factors (TFs) bind in genomes provides insight into which transcriptional programs are active across organs, tissue types, and environmental conditions. Recent advances in high-throughput profiling of regulatory DNA have yielded large amounts of information about chromatin accessibility. Interpreting the functional significance of these data sets requires knowledge of which regulators are likely to bind these regions. This can be achieved by using information about TF-binding preferences, or motifs, to identify TF-binding events that are likely to be functional. Although different approaches exist to map motifs to DNA sequences, a systematic evaluation of these tools in plants is missing. Here, we compare four motif-mapping tools widely used in the Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) research community and evaluate their performance using chromatin immunoprecipitation data sets for 40 TFs. Downstream gene regulatory network (GRN) reconstruction was found to be sensitive to the motif mapper used. We further show that the low recall of Find Individual Motif Occurrences, one of the most frequently used motif-mapping tools, can be overcome by using an Ensemble approach, which combines results from different mapping tools. Several examples are provided demonstrating how the Ensemble approach extends our view on transcriptional control for TFs active in different biological processes. Finally, a protocol is presented to effectively derive more complete cell type-specific GRNs through the integrative analysis of open chromatin regions, known binding site information, and expression data sets. This approach will pave the way to increase our understanding of GRNs in different cellular conditions.