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Motif prediction to distinguish LPS-stimulated pro-inflammatory vs. antibacterial macrophage genes
Background: Innate immunity is the first line of defence offered by host cells to infections. Macrophage cells involved in innate immunity are stimulated by lipopolysaccharide (LPS), found on bacterial cell surface, to express a complex array of gene products. Persistent LPS stimulation makes a macrophage tolerant to LPS with downregulation of inflammatory genes (“pro-inflammatory”) while continually expressing genes to fight the bacterial infection (“antibacterial”). Interactions of transcription factors (TF) at their cognate TF binding sites (TFBS) on the expressed genes are important in transcriptional regulatory networks that control these pro-inflammatory and antibacterial expression paradigms involved in LPS stimulation. Results: We used differential expression patterns in a public domain microarray data set from LPS-stimulated macrophages to identify 228 pro-inflammatory and 18 antibacterial genes. Employing three different motif search tools, we predicted respectively four and one statistically significant TF-TFBS interactions from the pro-inflammatory and antibacterial gene sets. The biological literature was utilized to identify target genes for the four proinflammatory profile TFs predicted from the three tools, and 18 of these target genes were observed to follow the pro-inflammatory expression pattern in the original microarray data. Conclusions: Our analysis distinguished pro-inflammatory vs. antibacterial transcriptomic signatures that classified their respective gene expression patterns and the corresponding TF-TFBS interactions in LPS-stimulated macrophages. By doing so, this study has attempted to characterize the temporal differences in gene expression associated with LPS tolerance, a major immune phenomenon implicated in various pathological disorders.