We present a system-wide transcriptional network structure that controls cell types in the context of expression pattern transitions that correspond to cell type transitions. Co-expression based analyses uncovered a system-wide, ladder-like transcription factor cluster structure composed of nearly 1,600 transcription factors in a human transcriptional network. Computer simulations based on a transcriptional regulatory model deduced from the system-wide, ladder-like transcription factor cluster structure reproduced expression pattern transitions when human THP-1 myelomonocytic leukaemia cells cease proliferation and differentiate under phorbol myristate acetate stimulation. The behaviour of MYC, a reprogramming Yamanaka factor that was suggested to be essential for induced pluripotent stem cells during dedifferentiation, could be interpreted based on the transcriptional regulation predicted by the system-wide, ladder-like transcription factor cluster structure. This study introduces a novel system-wide structure to transcriptional networks that provides new insights into network topology.
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