Prediction pipeline for discovery of regulatory motifs associated with brugia Malayi molting

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Filarial nematodes can cause debilitating diseases in humans. They have complicated life cycles involving an insect vector and mammalian hosts, and they go through a number of developmental molts. While whole genome sequences of parasitic worms are now avail-able, very little is known about transcription factor (TF) binding sites and their cognate transcription factors that play a role in regulating development. To address this gap, we developed a novel motif prediction pipeline, Emotif Alpha, that integrates ten different motif discovery algorithms, multiple statistical tests, and a comparative analysis of conserved elements between the filarial worms Brugia malayi and Onchocerca volvulus, and the free-liv-ing nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We identified stage-specific TF binding motifs in B. malayi, with a particular focus on those potentially involved in the L3-L4 molt, a stage important for the establishment of infection in the mammalian host. Using an in vitro molting sys-tem, we tested and validated three of these motifs demonstrating the accuracy of the motif prediction pipeline.