LibSBML is an application programming interface library for reading, writing, manipulating and validating content expressed in the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) format. It is written in ISO C and C++, provides language bindings for Common Lisp, Java, Python, Perl, MATLAB and Octave, and includes many features that facilitate adoption and use of both SBML and the library. Developers can embed libSBML in their applications, saving themselves the work of implementing their own SBML parsing, manipulation, and validation software.
LibSBML 3 was released in August 2007. Source code, binaries and documentation are freely available under LGPL open-source terms from http://sbml.org/software/libsbml.
Summary: The Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) is an established community XML format for the markup of biochemical models. With the introduction of SBML level 2 version 3, specific model entities, such as species or reactions, can now be annotated using ontological terms. These annotations, which are encoded using the resource description framework (RDF), provide the facility to specify definite terms to individual components, allowing software to unambiguously identify such components and thus link the models to existing data resources.
libSBML is an application programming interface library for the manipulation of SBML files. While libSBML provides the facilities for reading and writing such annotations from and to models, it is beyond the scope of libSBML to provide interpretation of these terms. The libAnnotationSBML library introduced here acts as a layer on top of libSBML linking SBML annotations to the web services that describe these ontological terms. Two applications that use this library are described: SbmlSynonymExtractor finds name synonyms of SBML model entities and SbmlReactionBalancer checks SBML files to determine whether specifed reactions are elementally balanced.
Motivation: The biological pathway exchange language (BioPAX) and the systems biology markup language (SBML) belong to the most popular modeling and data exchange languages in systems biology. The focus of SBML is quantitative modeling and dynamic simulation of models, whereas the BioPAX specification concentrates mainly on visualization and qualitative analysis of pathway maps. BioPAX describes reactions and relations. In contrast, SBML core exclusively describes quantitative processes such as reactions. With the SBML qualitative models extension (qual), it has recently also become possible to describe relations in SBML. Before the development of SBML qual, relations could not be properly translated into SBML. Until now, there exists no BioPAX to SBML converter that is fully capable of translating both reactions and relations.
Results: The entire nature pathway interaction database has been converted from BioPAX (Level 2 and Level 3) into SBML (Level 3 Version 1) including both reactions and relations by using the new qual extension package. Additionally, we present the new webtool BioPAX2SBML for further BioPAX to SBML conversions. Compared with previous conversion tools, BioPAX2SBML is more comprehensive, more robust and more exact.
Availability: BioPAX2SBML is freely available at http://webservices.cs.uni-tuebingen.de/ and the complete collection of the PID models is available at http://www.cogsys.cs.uni-tuebingen.de/downloads/Qualitative-Models/.
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) is gaining broad usage as a standard for representing dynamical systems as data structures. The open source statistical programming environment R is widely used by biostatisticians involved in microarray analyses. An interface between SBML and R does not exist, though one might be useful to R users interested in SBML, and SBML users interested in R.
A model structure that parallels SBML to a limited degree is defined in R. An interface between this structure and SBML is provided through two function definitions: write.SBML() which maps this R model structure to SBML level 2, and read.SBML() which maps a limited range of SBML level 2 files back to R. A published model of purine metabolism is provided in this SBML-like format and used to test the interface. The model reproduces published time course responses before and after its mapping through SBML.
List infrastructure preexisting in R makes it well-suited for manipulating SBML models. Further developments of this SBML-R interface seem to be warranted.
Qualitative frameworks, especially those based on the logical discrete formalism, are increasingly used to model regulatory and signalling networks. A major advantage of these frameworks is that they do not require precise quantitative data, and that they are well-suited for studies of large networks. While numerous groups have developed specific computational tools that provide original methods to analyse qualitative models, a standard format to exchange qualitative models has been missing.
We present the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) Qualitative Models Package (“qual”), an extension of the SBML Level 3 standard designed for computer representation of qualitative models of biological networks. We demonstrate the interoperability of models via SBML qual through the analysis of a specific signalling network by three independent software tools. Furthermore, the collective effort to define the SBML qual format paved the way for the development of LogicalModel, an open-source model library, which will facilitate the adoption of the format as well as the collaborative development of algorithms to analyse qualitative models.
SBML qual allows the exchange of qualitative models among a number of complementary software tools. SBML qual has the potential to promote collaborative work on the development of novel computational approaches, as well as on the specification and the analysis of comprehensive qualitative models of regulatory and signalling networks.
Motivation: The Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) is currently supported by >230 software tools, among which 160 support numerical integration of ordinary differential equation (ODE) models. Although SBML is a widely accepted standard within this field, there is still no language-neutral library that supports all features of SBML for simulating ODE models. Therefore, a demand exists for a simple portable implementation of a numerical integrator that supports SBML to enhance the development of a computational platform for systems biology.
Results: We implemented a library called libSBMLSim, which supports all the features of SBML and confirmed that the library passes all tests in the SBML test suite including those for SBML Events, AlgebraicRules, ‘fast’ attribute on Reactions and Delay. LibSBMLSim is implemented in the C programming language and does not depend on any third-party library except libSBML, which is a library to handle SBML documents. For the numerical integrator, both explicit and implicit methods are written from scratch to support all the functionality of SBML features in a straightforward implementation. We succeeded in implementing libSBMLSim as a platform-independent library that can run on most common operating systems (Windows, MacOSX and Linux) and also provides several language bindings (Java, C#, Python and Ruby).
Availability: The source code of libSBMLSim is available from http://fun.bio.keio.ac.jp/software/libsbmlsim/. LibSBMLSim is distributed under the terms of LGPL.
Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Summary: The XML-based Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) has emerged as a standard for storage, communication and interchange of models in systems biology. As a machine-readable format XML is difficult for humans to read and understand. Many tools are available that visualize the reaction pathways stored in SBML files, but many components, e.g. unit declarations, complex kinetic equations or links to MIRIAM resources, are often not made visible in these diagrams. For a broader understanding of the models, support in scientific writing and error detection, a human-readable report of the complete model is needed. We present SBML2LaTEX, a Java-based stand-alone program to fill this gap. A convenient web service allows users to directly convert SBML to various formats, including DVI, LaTEX and PDF, and provides many settings for customization.
Availability: Source code, documentation and a web service are freely available at http://www.ra.cs.uni-tuebingen.de/software/SBML2LaTeX.
Supplementary information:Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
The need to build a tool to facilitate the quick creation and editing of models encoded in the Systems Biology Markup language (SBML) has been growing with the number of users and the increased complexity of the language. SBMLeditor tries to answer this need by providing a very simple, low level editor of SBML files. Users can create and remove all the necessary bits and pieces of SBML in a controlled way, that maintains the validity of the final SBML file.
SBMLeditor is written in JAVA using JCompneur, a library providing interfaces to easily display an XML document as a tree. This decreases dramatically the development time for a new XML editor. The possibility to include custom dialogs for different tags allows a lot of freedom for the editing and validation of the document. In addition to Xerces, SBMLeditor uses libSBML to check the validity and consistency of SBML files. A graphical equation editor allows an easy manipulation of MathML. SBMLeditor can be used as a module of the Systems Biology Workbench.
SBMLeditor contains many improvements compared to a generic XML editor, and allow users to create an SBML model quickly and without syntactic errors.
Summary: The specifications of the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) define standards for storing and exchanging computer models of biological processes in text files. In order to perform model simulations, graphical visualizations and other software manipulations, an in-memory representation of SBML is required. We developed JSBML for this purpose. In contrast to prior implementations of SBML APIs, JSBML has been designed from the ground up for the Java™ programming language, and can therefore be used on all platforms supported by a Java Runtime Environment. This offers important benefits for Java users, including the ability to distribute software as Java Web Start applications. JSBML supports all SBML Levels and Versions through Level 3 Version 1, and we have strived to maintain the highest possible degree of compatibility with the popular library libSBML. JSBML also supports modules that can facilitate the development of plugins for end user applications, as well as ease migration from a libSBML-based backend.
Availability: Source code, binaries and documentation for JSBML can be freely obtained under the terms of the LGPL 2.1 from the website http://sbml.org/Software/JSBML.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
It has long been recognized that sensitivity analysis plays a key role in modeling and analyzing cellular and biochemical processes. Systems biology markup language (SBML) has become a well-known platform for coding and sharing mathematical models of such processes. However, current SBML compatible software tools are limited in their ability to perform global sensitivity analyses of these models.
This work introduces a freely downloadable, software package, SBML-SAT, which implements algorithms for simulation, steady state analysis, robustness analysis and local and global sensitivity analysis for SBML models. This software tool extends current capabilities through its execution of global sensitivity analyses using multi-parametric sensitivity analysis, partial rank correlation coefficient, SOBOL's method, and weighted average of local sensitivity analyses in addition to its ability to handle systems with discontinuous events and intuitive graphical user interface.
SBML-SAT provides the community of systems biologists a new tool for the analysis of their SBML models of biochemical and cellular processes.
The KEGG Pathway database is a valuable collection of metabolic pathway maps. Nevertheless, the production of simulation capable metabolic networks from KEGG Pathway data is a challenging complicated work, regardless the already developed tools for this scope. Originally used for illustration purposes, KEGG Pathways through KGML (KEGG Markup Language) files, can provide complete reaction sets and introduce species versioning, which offers advantages for the scope of cellular metabolism simulation modelling. In this project, KEGGconverter is described, implemented also as a web-based application, which uses as source KGML files, in order to construct integrated pathway SBML models fully functional for simulation purposes.
A case study of the integration of six human metabolic pathways from KEGG depicts the ability of KEGGconverter to automatically produce merged and converted to SBML fully functional pathway models, enhanced with default kinetics. The suitability of the developed tool is demonstrated through a comparison with other state-of-the art relevant software tools for the same data fusion and conversion tasks, thus illustrating the problems and the relevant workflows. Moreover, KEGGconverter permits the inclusion of additional reactions in the resulting model which represent flux cross-talk with neighbouring pathways, providing in this way improved simulative accuracy. These additional reactions are introduced by exploiting relevant semantic information for the elements of the KEGG Pathways database. The architecture and functionalities of the web-based application are presented.
KEGGconverter is capable of producing integrated analogues of metabolic pathways appropriate for simulation tasks, by inputting only KGML files. The web application acts as a user friendly shell which transparently enables the automated biochemically correct pathway merging, conversion to SBML format, proper renaming of the species, and insertion of default kinetic properties for the pertaining reactions. The tool is available at:
The creation of accurate quantitative Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) models is a time-intensive, manual process often complicated by the many data sources and formats required to annotate even a small and well-scoped model. Ideally, the retrieval and integration of biological knowledge for model annotation should be performed quickly, precisely, and with a minimum of manual effort.
Here we present rule-based mediation, a method of semantic data integration applied to systems biology model annotation. The heterogeneous data sources are first syntactically converted into ontologies, which are then aligned to a small domain ontology by applying a rule base. We demonstrate proof-of-principle of this application of rule-based mediation using off-the-shelf semantic web technology through two use cases for SBML model annotation. Existing tools and technology provide a framework around which the system is built, reducing development time and increasing usability.
Integrating resources in this way accommodates multiple formats with different semantics, and provides richly-modelled biological knowledge suitable for annotation of SBML models. This initial work establishes the feasibility of rule-based mediation as part of an automated SBML model annotation system.
Detailed information on the project files as well as further information on and comparisons with similar projects is available from the project page at http://cisban-silico.cs.ncl.ac.uk/RBM/.
Systems biology is an approach to biology that emphasizes the structure and dynamic behavior of biological systems and the interactions that occur within them. To succeed, systems biology crucially depends on the accessibility and integration of data across domains and levels of granularity. Biomedical ontologies were developed to facilitate such an integration of data and are often used to annotate biosimulation models in systems biology.
We provide a framework to integrate representations of in silico systems biology with those of in vivo biology as described by biomedical ontologies and demonstrate this framework using the Systems Biology Markup Language. We developed the SBML Harvester software that automatically converts annotated SBML models into OWL and we apply our software to those biosimulation models that are contained in the BioModels Database. We utilize the resulting knowledge base for complex biological queries that can bridge levels of granularity, verify models based on the biological phenomenon they represent and provide a means to establish a basic qualitative layer on which to express the semantics of biosimulation models.
We establish an information flow between biomedical ontologies and biosimulation models and we demonstrate that the integration of annotated biosimulation models and biomedical ontologies enables the verification of models as well as expressive queries. Establishing a bi-directional information flow between systems biology and biomedical ontologies has the potential to enable large-scale analyses of biological systems that span levels of granularity from molecules to organisms.
Time-dependent light input is an important feature of computational models of the circadian clock. However, publicly available models encoded in standard representations such as the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) either do not encode this input or use different mechanisms to do so, which hinders reproducibility of published results as well as model reuse. The authors describe here a numerically continuous function suitable for use in SBML for models of circadian rhythms forced by periodic light-dark cycles. The Input Signal Step Function (ISSF) is broadly applicable to encoding experimental manipulations, such as drug treatments, temperature changes, or inducible transgene expression, which may be transient, periodic, or mixed. It is highly configurable and is able to reproduce a wide range of waveforms. The authors have implemented this function in SBML and demonstrated its ability to modify the behavior of publicly available models to accurately reproduce published results. The implementation of ISSF allows standard simulation software to reproduce specialized circadian protocols, such as the phase-response curve. To facilitate the reuse of this function in public models, the authors have developed software to configure its behavior without any specialist knowledge of SBML. A community-standard approach to represent the inputs that entrain circadian clock models could particularly facilitate research in chronobiology.
drug treatments; circadian rhythms; systems biology; BioModels SED-ML SBO
Summary: Systems glycobiology studies the interaction of various pathways that regulate glycan biosynthesis and function. Software tools for the construction and analysis of such pathways are not yet available. We present GNAT, a platform-independent, user-extensible MATLAB-based toolbox that provides an integrated computational environment to construct, manipulate and simulate glycans and their networks. It enables integration of XML-based glycan structure data into SBML (Systems Biology Markup Language) files that describe glycosylation reaction networks. Curation and manipulation of networks is facilitated using class definitions and glycomics database query tools. High quality visualization of networks and their steady-state and dynamic simulation are also supported.
Availability: The software package including source code, help documentation and demonstrations are available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/gnatmatlab/files/.
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Motivation: The SBML Render Extension enables coloring and shape information of biochemical models to be stored in the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML). Rendering of this stored graphical information in a portable and well supported system such as TeX would be useful for researchers preparing documentation and presentations. In addition, since the Render Extension is not yet supported by many applications, it is helpful for such rendering functionality be extended to the more popular CellDesigner annotation as well.
Results: SBML2TikZ supports automatic generation of graphics for biochemical models in the popular TeX typesetting system. The library generates a script of TeX macro commands for the vector graphics languages PGF/TikZ that can be compiled into scalable vector graphics described in a model.
Availability: Source code, documentation and compiled binaries for the SBML2TikZ library can be found at http://www.sbml2tikz.org. In addition, a web application is available at http://www.sys-bio.org/layout
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Combinatorial complexity is a challenging problem for the modeling of cellular signal transduction since the association of a few proteins can give rise to an enormous amount of feasible protein complexes. The layer-based approach is an approximative, but accurate method for the mathematical modeling of signaling systems with inherent combinatorial complexity. The number of variables in the simulation equations is highly reduced and the resulting dynamic models show a pronounced modularity. Layer-based modeling allows for the modeling of systems not accessible previously.
ALC (Automated Layer Construction) is a computer program that highly simplifies the building of reduced modular models, according to the layer-based approach. The model is defined using a simple but powerful rule-based syntax that supports the concepts of modularity and macrostates. ALC performs consistency checks on the model definition and provides the model output in different formats (C MEX, MATLAB, Mathematica and SBML) as ready-to-run simulation files. ALC also provides additional documentation files that simplify the publication or presentation of the models. The tool can be used offline or via a form on the ALC website.
ALC allows for a simple rule-based generation of layer-based reduced models. The model files are given in different formats as ready-to-run simulation files.
With the increasing availability of high dimensional time course data for metabolites, genes, and fluxes, the mathematical description of dynamical systems has become an essential aspect of research in systems biology. Models are often encoded in formats such as SBML, whose structure is very complex and difficult to evaluate due to many special cases.
This article describes an efficient algorithm to solve SBML models that are interpreted in terms of ordinary differential equations. We begin our consideration with a formal representation of the mathematical form of the models and explain all parts of the algorithm in detail, including several preprocessing steps. We provide a flexible reference implementation as part of the Systems Biology Simulation Core Library, a community-driven project providing a large collection of numerical solvers and a sophisticated interface hierarchy for the definition of custom differential equation systems. To demonstrate the capabilities of the new algorithm, it has been tested with the entire SBML Test Suite and all models of BioModels Database.
The formal description of the mathematics behind the SBML format facilitates the implementation of the algorithm within specifically tailored programs. The reference implementation can be used as a simulation backend for Java™-based programs. Source code, binaries, and documentation can be freely obtained under the terms of the LGPL version 3 from http://simulation-core.sourceforge.net. Feature requests, bug reports, contributions, or any further discussion can be directed to the mailing list email@example.com.
Systems biology; Biological networks; Mathematical modeling; Simulation; Algorithms; Ordinary differential equation systems; Numerical integration; Software engineering
Motivation: The growing field of systems biology has driven demand for flexible tools to model and simulate biological systems. Two established problems in the modeling of biological processes are model selection and the estimation of associated parameters. A number of statistical approaches, both frequentist and Bayesian, have been proposed to answer these questions.
Results: Here we present a Python package, ABC-SysBio, that implements parameter inference and model selection for dynamical systems in an approximate Bayesian computation (ABC) framework. ABC-SysBio combines three algorithms: ABC rejection sampler, ABC SMC for parameter inference and ABC SMC for model selection. It is designed to work with models written in Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML). Deterministic and stochastic models can be analyzed in ABC-SysBio.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Summary: Saint is a web application which provides a lightweight annotation integration environment for quantitative biological models. The system enables modellers to rapidly mark up models with biological information derived from a range of data sources.
Availability and Implementation: Saint is freely available for use on the web at http://www.cisban.ac.uk/saint. The web application is implemented in Google Web Toolkit and Tomcat, with all major browsers supported. The Java source code is freely available for download at http://saint-annotate.sourceforge.net. The Saint web server requires an installation of libSBML and has been tested on Linux (32-bit Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04).
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Motivation: Model exchange in systems and synthetic biology has been standardized for computers with the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) and CellML, but specialized software is needed for the generation of models in these formats. Text-based model definition languages allow researchers to create models simply, and then export them to a common exchange format. Modular languages allow researchers to create and combine complex models more easily. We saw a use for a modular text-based language, together with a translation library to allow other programs to read the models as well.
Summary: The Antimony language provides a way for a researcher to use simple text statements to create, import, and combine biological models, allowing complex models to be built from simpler models, and provides a special syntax for the creation of modular genetic networks. The libAntimony library allows other software packages to import these models and convert them either to SBML or their own internal format.
Availability: The Antimony language specification and the libAntimony library are available under a BSD license from http://antimony.sourceforge.net/
Summary: We have developed a new software system, REgulatory Network generator with COmbinatorial control (RENCO), for automatic generation of differential equations describing pre-transcriptional combinatorics in artificial regulatory networks. RENCO has the following benefits: (a) it explicitly models protein–protein interactions among transcription factors, (b) it captures combinatorial control of transcription factors on target genes and (c) it produces output in Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) format, which allows these equations to be directly imported into existing simulators. Explicit modeling of the protein interactions allows RENCO to incorporate greater mechanistic detail of the transcription machinery compared to existing models and can provide a better assessment of algorithms for regulatory network inference.
Availability: RENCO is a C++ command line program, available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/renco/
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
There are multiple representation formats for Systems Biology computational models, and the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) is one of the most widely used. SBML is used to capture, store, and distribute computational models by Systems Biology data sources (e.g., the BioModels Database) and researchers. Therefore, there is a need for all-in-one web-based solutions that support advance SBML functionalities such as uploading, editing, composing, visualizing, simulating, querying, and browsing computational models.
We present the design and implementation of the Model Composition Tool (Interface) within the PathCase-SB (PathCase Systems Biology) web portal. The tool helps users compose systems biology models to facilitate the complex process of merging systems biology models. We also present three tools that support the model composition tool, namely, (1) Model Simulation Interface that generates a visual plot of the simulation according to user’s input, (2) iModel Tool as a platform for users to upload their own models to compose, and (3) SimCom Tool that provides a side by side comparison of models being composed in the same pathway. Finally, we provide a web site that hosts BioModels Database models and a separate web site that hosts SBML Test Suite models.
Model composition tool (and the other three tools) can be used with little or no knowledge of the SBML document structure. For this reason, students or anyone who wants to learn about systems biology will benefit from the described functionalities. SBML Test Suite models will be a nice starting point for beginners. And, for more advanced purposes, users will able to access and employ models of the BioModels Database as well.
System biology models; Simulation; Composition; ODE solver
The behaviour of biological systems can be deduced from their mathematical models. However, multiple sources of data in diverse forms are required in the construction of a model in order to define its components and their biochemical reactions, and corresponding parameters. Automating the assembly and use of systems biology models is dependent upon data integration processes involving the interoperation of data and analytical resources.
Taverna workflows have been developed for the automated assembly of quantitative parameterised metabolic networks in the Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML). A SBML model is built in a systematic fashion by the workflows which starts with the construction of a qualitative network using data from a MIRIAM-compliant genome-scale model of yeast metabolism. This is followed by parameterisation of the SBML model with experimental data from two repositories, the SABIO-RK enzyme kinetics database and a database of quantitative experimental results. The models are then calibrated and simulated in workflows that call out to COPASIWS, the web service interface to the COPASI software application for analysing biochemical networks. These systems biology workflows were evaluated for their ability to construct a parameterised model of yeast glycolysis.
Distributed information about metabolic reactions that have been described to MIRIAM standards enables the automated assembly of quantitative systems biology models of metabolic networks based on user-defined criteria. Such data integration processes can be implemented as Taverna workflows to provide a rapid overview of the components and their relationships within a biochemical system.
Thousands of biochemical interactions are available for download from curated databases such as Reactome, Pathway Interaction Database and other sources in the Biological Pathways Exchange (BioPAX) format. However, the BioPAX ontology does not encode the necessary information for kinetic modeling and simulation. The current standard for kinetic modeling is the System Biology Markup Language (SBML), but only a small number of models are available in SBML format in public repositories. Additionally, reusing and merging SBML models presents a significant challenge, because often each element has a value only in the context of the given model, and information encoding biological meaning is absent. We describe a software system that enables a variety of operations facilitating the use of BioPAX data to create kinetic models that can be visualized, edited, and simulated using the Virtual Cell (VCell), including improved conversion to SBML (for use with other simulation tools that support this format).