Unicellular organisms such as yeasts have evolved mechanisms to respond to environmental stresses by rapidly reorganizing the gene expression program. Although many stress-response genes in yeast have been discovered by DNA microarrays, the stress-response transcription factors (TFs) that regulate these stress-response genes remain to be investigated. In this study, we use a dynamic system model of gene regulation to describe the mechanism of how TFs may control a gene's expression. Then, based on the dynamic system model, we develop the Stress Regulator Identification Algorithm (SRIA) to identify stress-response TFs for six kinds of stresses. We identified some general stress-response TFs that respond to various stresses and some specific stress-response TFs that respond to one specific stress. The biological significance of our findings is validated by the literature. We found that a small number of TFs is probably sufficient to control a wide variety of expression patterns in yeast under different stresses. Two implications can be inferred from this observation. First, the response mechanisms to different stresses may have a bow-tie structure. Second, there may be regulatory cross-talks among different stress responses. In conclusion, this study proposes a network of stress-response regulators and the details of their actions.
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