We report the comprehensive identification of periodic genes and their network inference, based on a gene co-expression analysis and an Auto-Regressive eXogenous (ARX) model with a group smoothly clipped absolute deviation (SCAD) method using a time-series transcriptome dataset in a model grass, Brachypodium distachyon. To reveal the diurnal changes in the transcriptome in B. distachyon, we performed RNA-seq analysis of its leaves sampled through a diurnal cycle of over 48 h at 4 h intervals using three biological replications, and identified 3,621 periodic genes through our wavelet analysis. The expression data are feasible to infer network sparsity based on ARX models. We found that genes involved in biological processes such as transcriptional regulation, protein degradation, and post-transcriptional modification and photosynthesis are significantly enriched in the periodic genes, suggesting that these processes might be regulated by circadian rhythm in B. distachyon. On the basis of the time-series expression patterns of the periodic genes, we constructed a chronological gene co-expression network and identified putative transcription factors encoding genes that might be involved in the time-specific regulatory transcriptional network. Moreover, we inferred a transcriptional network composed of the periodic genes in B. distachyon, aiming to identify genes associated with other genes through variable selection by grouping time points for each gene. Based on the ARX model with the group SCAD regularization using our time-series expression datasets of the periodic genes, we constructed gene networks and found that the networks represent typical scale-free structure. Our findings demonstrate that the diurnal changes in the transcriptome in B. distachyon leaves have a sparse network structure, demonstrating the spatiotemporal gene regulatory network over the cyclic phase transitions in B. distachyon diurnal growth.
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