Transcription Factor Classification

Most transcription factors (TFs) possess a DNA-binding domain (DBD), which mediates the recognition of specific, short DNA sequence elements in promoter, enhancer, etc. In order to approach the problem of deciphering the underlying DNA-protein recognition code, we have completely revised an earlier TF classification scheme (1,2) by adapting it to the wealth of data that were reported during the last ten years (TFClass; 3-5). TFClass has been implemented at the Dept. of Bioinformatics at the University Medical Center Göttingen (3,6).
Part of this work was done in the context of the Syscol project, where our partner at the Karolinska institute (Prof. J. Taipale and his team) have characterized the DNA-binding profiles of more than 400 mammalian TFs (7). It will be tempting to compare the similarities of their matrices with the DBD classification reported here, and with our own approaches to classify DNA-binding profiles (8).


  1. Wingender, E., Schoeps, T., Haubrock, M., Krull, M. and Dönitz, J. (2018) TFClass: expanding the classification of human transcription factors to their mammalian orthologs. Nucleic Acids Res. 46, D343-D347. Link
  2. Wingender, E., Schoeps, T., Haubrock, M., Dönitz, J. (2015) TFClass: a classification of human transcription factors and their rodent orthologs. Nucleic Acids Res. 43, D97-D102. Link
  3. Stegmaier, P., Kel, A., Wingender, E., Borlak, J. (2013) A discriminative approach for unsupervised clustering of DNA sequence motifs. PLoS Comput. Biol. 9, e1002958.
  4. Jolma, A., et al. (2013) DNA-Binding Specificities of Human Transcription Factors. Cell 152, 327–339. Link
  7. Wingender, E. (2013) Criteria for an updated classification of human transcription factor DNA-binding domains. J. Bioinform. Comput. Biol. 11, 1340007. Link
  8. Wingender, E., Schoeps, T., Dönitz, J. (2013) TFClass: An expandable hierarchical classification of human transcription factors. Nucleic Acids Res. 41, D165-D170. Link
  9. Heinemeyer, T., Chen, X., Karas, H., Kel, A.E., Kel, O.V., Liebich, I., Meinhardt, T., Reuter, I., Schacherer, F., Wingender, E. (1999) Expanding the TRANSFAC database towards an expert system of regulatory molecular mechanisms. Nucleic Acids Res. 27, 318–322. Link
  10. Wingender, E. (1997) Classification scheme of eukaryotic transcription factors. Mol. Biol. Engl. Tr. 31, 498-512. Link