In her 2019 Maize Genetics Conference presentation, Dr. Mejia-Guerra reviewed her research on decoding the transcriptional regulatory atlas of the maize leaf. As Mejia-Guerra explains, "Important genes have been identified through quantitative genetic studies, evolutionary comparative analysis, and transcriptomes across tissues and developmental stages. Yet, the architecture of the gene regulatory network controlling the functioning of the maize leaf is unknown."
In this study, Mejia-Guerra and her collaborators Xiaoyu T, Jose Valdes Franco, Pinghua Li, Edward S. Buckler, and Silin Zhong, used a novel ChIP-seq approach to catalog the in vivo binding of 104 transcription factors (TFs) that are highly expressed in leaves. The resulting 2,162,941 highly reproducible peaks represent a non-overlapping set of 144,890 regulatory loci. This collection highly overlaps with open chromatin regions (i.e., 99% of ATAC-seq peaks), and shows enrichment for expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs).
The atlas and models will be instrumental to interpreting sequence variation in the light of its regulatory function.
This study is a collaboration of researchers from Shandong Agricultural University, Cornell University, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.