Biological processes are usually associated with genome-wide remodeling of transcription driven by transcription factors (TFs). Identifying key TFs and their spatiotemporal binding patterns are indispensable to understanding how dynamic processes are programmed. However, most methods are designed to predict TF binding sites only. We present a computational method, dynamic motif occupancy analysis (DynaMO), to infer important TFs and their spatiotemporal binding activities in dynamic biological processes using chromatin profiling data from multiple biological conditions such as time-course histone modification ChIP-seq data. In the first step, DynaMO predicts TF binding sites with a random forests approach. Next and uniquely, DynaMO infers dynamic TF binding activities at predicted binding sites using their local chromatin profiles from multiple biological conditions. Another landmark of DynaMO is to identify key TFs in a dynamic process using a clustering and enrichment analysis of dynamic TF binding patterns. Application of DynaMO to the yeast ultradian cycle, mouse circadian clock and human neural differentiation exhibits its accuracy and versatility. We anticipate DynaMO will be generally useful for elucidating transcriptional programs in dynamic processes.
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