Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Plant Biology

First Advisor

Lightfoot, David

Second Advisor

Anterola, Aldwin

Third Advisor

Geisler, Matt


Bioinformatics is a valuable tool to understand gene regulatory networks. Cis-regulatory elements (CREs) previously found in promoter regions are known to recruit transcription in signaling pathways. In this work it has been hypothesized to consider CREs as a family of related words that interact/bind to a family of related transcription factors, and thus have similar but distinct regulation patterns. A 1460 microarray gene expression collection was obtained via online databases to create a transcriptomic meta-dataset. A novel bioinformatic algorithm was applied to annotate all 65536 (64k) potential 8-letter CREs in the 500 bp upstream promoter region of all A. thaliana genes across the transcriptomic meta-dataset. Of the possible words, only 2,498 were significantly associated with a pattern of regulation in any of the 1,460 microarrays tested whereas the remaining motifs appeared not to be regulatory. Unique CREs were categorized into 4 regulatory types: inducer, suppressor, biregulator and insulator.

A predicted protein protein interactome was created for an economically important plant Coffea canephora. Here, it has been hypothesized that evolutionary conservation of many core biological processes enable generation of predicted protein interactome for species with few resources other than sequenced genome. Of over 12,000 genes identified, 939 were predicted to have 4,587 interactions. Gene Ontology analysis revealed enrichment of processes conserved in all eukaryotes but depletion in unique plant processes.

A third study was conducted to determine if homology modeling, evolutionary analysis, and structural evolution could determine key factors involved in function, and interaction specificity in Pus10 (EC found in Archaea and Eukaryotes. Redundancy of Pus10 and the bacterial TrmA and TruB orthologs appear to have resulted in significant molecular evolution of Pus10 function. Neofunctionalization was identified in animal kingdom where thiouridine synthase, methylases and PSUSs (THUMP)-domain modification in early animal evolution coincides with appearance of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) apoptosis components. Subfunctionalization was identified for Thermococcales lineage of Archaea where a shorter forefinger-loop coincides with the loss of Ψ54 specificity as experimentally verified in P. furiosus. Absence of Pus10 was observed in Sulfolobus and higher fungi whereas in plant kingdom Pus10 function remains unknown with possible pseudogene in some lineages




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