SEGN: Inferring real-time gene networks mediating phenotypic plasticity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The capacity of an organism to alter its phenotype in response to environmental perturbations changes over developmental time and is a process determined by multiple genes that are co-expressed in intricate but organized networks. Characterizing the spatiotemporal change of such gene networks can offer insight into the genomic signatures underlying organismic adaptation, but it represents a major methodological challenge. Here, we integrate the holistic view of systems biology and the interactive notion of evolutionary game theory to reconstruct so-called systems evolutionary game networks (SEGN) that can autonomously detect, track, and visualize environment-induced gene networks along the time axis. The SEGN overcomes the limitations of traditional approaches by inferring context-specific networks, encapsulating bidirectional, signed, and weighted gene-gene interactions into fully informative networks, and monitoring the process of how networks topologically alter across environmental and developmental cues. Based on the design principle of SEGN, we perform a transcriptional plasticity study by culturing Euphrates poplar, a tree that can grow in the saline desert, in saline-free and saline-stress conditions. SEGN characterize previously unknown gene co-regulation that modulates the time trajectories of the trees’ response to salt stress. As a marriage of multiple disciplines, SEGN shows its potential to interpret gene interdependence, predict how transcriptional co-regulation responds to various regimes, and provides a hint for exploring the mass, energetic, or signal basis that drives various types of gene interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2510-2521
Number of pages12
JournalComputational and Structural Biotechnology Journal
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'SEGN: Inferring real-time gene networks mediating phenotypic plasticity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this