Phenotypic differences of genetically identical cells under the same environmental conditions have been attributed to the inherent stochasticity of biochemical processes. Various mechanisms have been suggested, including the existence of alternative steady states in regulatory networks that are reached by means of stochastic fluctuations, long transient excursions from a stable state to an unstable excited state, and the switching on and off of a reaction network according to the availability of a constituent chemical species. Here we analyse a detailed stochastic kinetic model of two-component system signalling in bacteria, and show that alternative phenotypes emerge in the absence of these features. We perform a bifurcation analysis of deterministic reaction rate equations derived from the model, and find that they cannot reproduce the whole range of qualitative responses to external signals demonstrated by direct stochastic simulations. In particular, the mixed mode, where stochastic switching and a graded response are seen simultaneously, is absent. However, probabilistic and equation-free analyses of the stochastic model that calculate stationary states for the mean of an ensemble of stochastic trajectories reveal that slow transcription of either response regulator or histidine kinase leads to the coexistence of an approximate basal solution and a graded response that combine to produce the mixed mode, thus establishing its essential stochastic nature. The same techniques also show that stochasticity results in the observation of an all-or-none bistable response over a much wider range of external signals than would be expected on deterministic grounds. Thus we demonstrate the application of numerical equation-free methods to a detailed biochemical reaction network model, and show that it can provide new insight into the role of stochasticity in the emergence of phenotypic diversity.
It is a surprising fact that genetically identical bacteria, living in identical conditions, can develop in completely different ways: for example, one subpopulation might grow very fast and another very slowly. These different phenotypes are thought to be one reason why bacteria that cause disease can survive antibiotic treatment or become persistent. This diversity of behaviour is usually attributed to the existence of multiple stable phenotypic states, or to the coexistence of one stable state with another unstable excited state, or finally to the possibility of the whole biochemical system that controls the phenotype being switched on and off. In this paper we describe a different scenario that leads to phenotypic diversity in two-component system signalling, a very common mechanism that bacteria use to sense external signals and control their response to changes in their environment. We use probability theory and equation-free computational analysis to calculate the average number of molecules of each chemical species present in the two-component system and hence show that sporadic production of either of two key chemical components required for signalling can delay the response to the external signal in some bacterial cells and so lead to the emergence of two distinct cell populations.
Motivation: Understanding gene regulation in biological processes and modeling the robustness of underlying regulatory networks is an important problem that is currently being addressed by computational systems biologists. Lately, there has been a renewed interest in Boolean modeling techniques for gene regulatory networks (GRNs). However, due to their deterministic nature, it is often difficult to identify whether these modeling approaches are robust to the addition of stochastic noise that is widespread in gene regulatory processes. Stochasticity in Boolean models of GRNs has been addressed relatively sparingly in the past, mainly by flipping the expression of genes between different expression levels with a predefined probability. This stochasticity in nodes (SIN) model leads to over representation of noise in GRNs and hence non-correspondence with biological observations.
Results: In this article, we introduce the stochasticity in functions (SIF) model for simulating stochasticity in Boolean models of GRNs. By providing biological motivation behind the use of the SIF model and applying it to the T-helper and T-cell activation networks, we show that the SIF model provides more biologically robust results than the existing SIN model of stochasticity in GRNs.
Availability: Algorithms are made available under our Boolean modeling toolbox, GenYsis. The software binaries can be downloaded from http://si2.epfl.ch/∼garg/genysis.html.
High throughput measurement of gene expression at single-cell resolution, combined with systematic perturbation of environmental or cellular variables, provides information that can be used to generate novel insight into the properties of gene regulatory networks by linking cellular responses to external parameters. In dynamical systems theory, this information is the subject of bifurcation analysis, which establishes how system-level behaviour changes as a function of parameter values within a given deterministic mathematical model. Since cellular networks are inherently noisy, we generalize the traditional bifurcation diagram of deterministic systems theory to stochastic dynamical systems. We demonstrate how statistical methods for density estimation, in particular, mixture density and conditional mixture density estimators, can be employed to establish empirical bifurcation diagrams describing the bistable genetic switch network controlling galactose utilization in yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These approaches allow us to make novel qualitative and quantitative observations about the switching behavior of the galactose network, and provide a framework that might be useful to extract information needed for the development of quantitative network models.
Decades ago, Waddington, and later Kauffman, likened the dynamics of a differentiating cell to a marble rolling downhill on bumpy terrain—the epigenetic landscape. In this metaphor, the valleys of the landscape represent the paths that cells can follow towards a stable cell type, and the fate of the cell is determined by the constant modulation of the epigenetic landscape by internal and external signals. With new technologies for measuring single-cell gene expression, it is increasingly feasible to map out these valleys and how external variables influence cellular responses. Moreover, it is possible to quantify population level effects, such as what fraction of a population of cells arrives at one valley or another, and variability at the cellular level, such as how individual cells bounce around within, and possibly between, valleys due to the stochasticity of cellular biochemistry. In this paper, we discuss which characteristics of the epigenetic landscape can readily be extracted from single-cell gene expression data, and describe computational methods for doing so.
Progress in experimental and theoretical biology is likely to provide us with the opportunity to assemble detailed predictive models of mammalian cells. Using a functional format to describe the organization of mammalian cells, we describe current approaches for developing qualitative and quantitative models using data from a variety of experimental sources. Recent developments and applications of graph theory to biological networks are reviewed. The use of these qualitative models to identify the topology of regulatory motifs and functional modules is discussed. Cellular homeostasis and plasticity are interpreted within the framework of balance between regulatory motifs and interactions between modules. From this analysis we identify the need for detailed quantitative models on the basis of the representation of the chemistry underlying the cellular process. The use of deterministic, stochastic, and hybrid models to represent cellular processes is reviewed, and an initial integrated approach for the development of large-scale predictive models of a mammalian cell is presented.
cell signaling; protein-protein interactions; network modeling; systems biology
Stochastic effects can be important for the behavior of processes involving small population numbers, so the study of stochastic models has become an important topic in the burgeoning field of computational systems biology. However analysis techniques for stochastic models have tended to lag behind their deterministic cousins due to the heavier computational demands of the statistical approaches for fitting the models to experimental data. There is a continuing need for more effective and efficient algorithms. In this article we focus on the parameter inference problem for stochastic kinetic models of biochemical reactions given discrete time-course observations of either some or all of the molecular species.
We propose an algorithm for inference of kinetic rate parameters based upon maximum likelihood using stochastic gradient descent (SGD). We derive a general formula for the gradient of the likelihood function given discrete time-course observations. The formula applies to any explicit functional form of the kinetic rate laws such as mass-action, Michaelis-Menten, etc. Our algorithm estimates the gradient of the likelihood function by reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling (RJMCMC), and then gradient descent method is employed to obtain the maximum likelihood estimation of parameter values. Furthermore, we utilize flux balance analysis and show how to automatically construct reversible jump samplers for arbitrary biochemical reaction models. We provide RJMCMC sampling algorithms for both fully observed and partially observed time-course observation data. Our methods are illustrated with two examples: a birth-death model and an auto-regulatory gene network. We find good agreement of the inferred parameters with the actual parameters in both models.
The SGD method proposed in the paper presents a general framework of inferring parameters for stochastic kinetic models. The method is computationally efficient and is effective for both partially and fully observed systems. Automatic construction of reversible jump samplers and general formulation of the likelihood gradient function makes our method applicable to a wide range of stochastic models. Furthermore our derivations can be useful for other purposes such as using the gradient information for parametric sensitivity analysis or using the reversible jump samplers for full Bayesian inference. The software implementing the algorithms is publicly available at http://cbcl.ics.uci.edu/sgd
Biological systems often involve chemical reactions occurring in low-molecule-number regimes, where fluctuations are not negligible and thus stochastic models are required to capture the system behaviour. The resulting models are generally quite large and complex, involving many reactions and species. For clarity and computational tractability, it is important to be able to simplify these systems to equivalent ones involving fewer elements. While many model simplification approaches have been developed for deterministic systems, there has been limited work on applying these approaches to stochastic modelling. Here, we describe a method that reduces the complexity of stochastic biochemical network models, and apply this method to the reduction of a mammalian signalling cascade and a detailed model of the process of bacterial gene expression. Our results indicate that the simplified model gives an accurate representation for not only the average numbers of all species, but also for the associated fluctuations and statistical parameters.
Stochastic biochemical modelling (modeling); Model reduction; Signalling (signaling, signal) cascade; Gene expression; Slow manifold; Simplification
Circadian clocks are gene regulatory networks whose role is to help the organisms to cope with variations in environmental conditions such as the day/night cycle. In this work, we explored the effects of molecular noise in single cells on the behaviour of the circadian clock in the plant model species Arabidopsis thaliana. The computational modelling language Bio-PEPA enabled us to give a stochastic interpretation of an existing deterministic model of the clock, and to easily compare the results obtained via stochastic simulation and via numerical solution of the deterministic model. First, the introduction of stochasticity in the model allowed us to estimate the unknown size of the system. Moreover, stochasticity improved the description of the available experimental data in several light conditions: noise-induced fluctuations yield a faster entrainment of the plant clock under certain photoperiods and are able to explain the experimentally observed dampening of the oscillations in plants under constant light conditions. The model predicts that the desynchronization between noisy oscillations in single cells contributes to the observed damped oscillations at the level of the cell population. Analysis of the phase, period and amplitude distributions under various light conditions demonstrated robust entrainment of the plant clock to light/dark cycles which closely matched the available experimental data.
circadian clock; Arabidopsis thaliana; discrete stochastic model; Bio-PEPA process algebra; oscillatory systems
The NF-κB regulatory network controls innate immune response by transducing variety of pathogen-derived and cytokine stimuli into well defined single-cell gene regulatory events.
We analyze the network by means of the model combining a deterministic description for molecular species with large cellular concentrations with two classes of stochastic switches: cell-surface receptor activation by TNFα ligand, and IκBα and A20 genes activation by NF-κB molecules. Both stochastic switches are associated with amplification pathways capable of translating single molecular events into tens of thousands of synthesized or degraded proteins. Here, we show that at a low TNFα dose only a fraction of cells are activated, but in these activated cells the amplification mechanisms assure that the amplitude of NF-κB nuclear translocation remains above a threshold. Similarly, the lower nuclear NF-κB concentration only reduces the probability of gene activation, but does not reduce gene expression of those responding.
These two effects provide a particular stochastic robustness in cell regulation, allowing cells to respond differently to the same stimuli, but causing their individual responses to be unequivocal. Both effects are likely to be crucial in the early immune response: Diversity in cell responses causes that the tissue defense is harder to overcome by relatively simple programs coded in viruses and other pathogens. The more focused single-cell responses help cells to choose their individual fates such as apoptosis or proliferation. The model supports the hypothesis that binding of single TNFα ligands is sufficient to induce massive NF-κB translocation and activation of NF-κB dependent genes.
Stimulating the receptors of a single cell generates stochastic intracellular signaling. The fluctuating response has been attributed to the low abundance of signaling molecules and the spatio-temporal effects of diffusion and crowding. At population level, however, cells are able to execute well-defined deterministic biological processes such as growth, division, differentiation and immune response. These data reflect biology as a system possessing microscopic and macroscopic dynamics. This commentary discusses the average population response of the Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 and 4 signaling. Without requiring detailed experimental data, linear response equations together with the fundamental law of information conservation have been used to decipher novel network features such as unknown intermediates, processes and cross-talk mechanisms. For single cell response, however, such simplicity seems far from reality. Thus, as observed in any other complex systems, biology can be considered to possess order and disorder, inheriting a mixture of predictable population level and unpredictable single cell outcomes.
cell signaling; governing law; systems biology; microscopic and macroscopic dynamics; immune response
A class of simple spatio-temporal stochastic models for the spread and control of plant disease is investigated. We consider a lattice-based susceptible-infected model in which the infection of a host occurs through two distinct processes: a background infective challenge representing primary infection from external sources, and a short-range interaction representing the secondary infection of susceptibles by infectives within the population. Recent data-modelling studies have suggested that the above model may describe the spread of aphid-borne virus diseases in orchards. In addition, we extend the model to represent the effects of different control strategies involving replantation (or recovery). The Contact Process is a particular case of this model. The behaviour of the model has been studied using Cellular-Automata simulations. An alternative approach is to formulate a set of deterministic differential equations that captures the essential dynamics of the stochastic system. Approximate solutions to this set of equations, describing the time evolution over the whole parameter range, have been obtained using the pairwise approximation (PA) as well as the most commonly used mean-field approximation (MF). Comparison with simulation results shows that PA is significantly superior to MF, predicting accurately both transient and long-run, stationary behaviour over relevant parts of the parameter space. The conditions for the validity of the approximations to the present model and extensions thereof are discussed.
Biochemical systems involve chemical reactions occurring in low-number regimes, wherein fluctuations are not negligible and thus stochastic models are required to capture the system behaviour. The resulting models are often quite large and complex, involving many reactions and species. For clarity and computational tractability, it is important to be able to simplify these systems to equivalent ones involving fewer elements. While many model simplification approaches have been developed for deterministic systems, there has been limited work on applying these approaches to stochastic modelling. Here, we propose a method that reduces the complexity of stochastic biochemical network models, and apply this method to the reduction of a mammalian signalling cascade. Our results indicate that the simplified model gives an accurate representation for not only the average number of all species, but also for the associated fluctuations and statistical parameters.
stochastic biochemical modelling (modeling); model reduction; signalling (signaling, signal) cascade
Apoptosis is a cell suicide mechanism that enables multicellular organisms to maintain homeostasis and to eliminate individual cells that threaten the organism’s survival. Dependent on the type of stimulus, apoptosis can be propagated by extrinsic pathway or intrinsic pathway. The comprehensive understanding of the molecular mechanism of apoptotic signaling allows for development of mathematical models, aiming to elucidate dynamical and systems properties of apoptotic signaling networks. There have been extensive efforts in modeling deterministic apoptosis network accounting for average behavior of a population of cells. Cellular networks, however, are inherently stochastic and significant cell-to-cell variability in apoptosis response has been observed at single cell level.
To address the inevitable randomness in the intrinsic apoptosis mechanism, we develop a theoretical and computational modeling framework of intrinsic apoptosis pathway at single-cell level, accounting for both deterministic and stochastic behavior. Our deterministic model, adapted from the well-accepted Fussenegger model, shows that an additional positive feedback between the executioner caspase and the initiator caspase plays a fundamental role in yielding the desired property of bistability. We then examine the impact of intrinsic fluctuations of biochemical reactions, viewed as intrinsic noise, and natural variation of protein concentrations, viewed as extrinsic noise, on behavior of the intrinsic apoptosis network. Histograms of the steady-state output at varying input levels show that the intrinsic noise could elicit a wider region of bistability over that of the deterministic model. However, the system stochasticity due to intrinsic fluctuations, such as the noise of steady-state response and the randomness of response delay, shows that the intrinsic noise in general is insufficient to produce significant cell-to-cell variations at physiologically relevant level of molecular numbers. Furthermore, the extrinsic noise represented by random variations of two key apoptotic proteins, namely Cytochrome C and inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAP), is modeled separately or in combination with intrinsic noise. The resultant stochasticity in the timing of intrinsic apoptosis response shows that the fluctuating protein variations can induce cell-to-cell stochastic variability at a quantitative level agreeing with experiments. Finally, simulations illustrate that the mean abundance of fluctuating IAP protein is positively correlated with the degree of cellular stochasticity of the intrinsic apoptosis pathway.
Our theoretical and computational study shows that the pronounced non-genetic heterogeneity in intrinsic apoptosis responses among individual cells plausibly arises from extrinsic rather than intrinsic origin of fluctuations. In addition, it predicts that the IAP protein could serve as a potential therapeutic target for suppression of the cell-to-cell variation in the intrinsic apoptosis responsiveness.
Intrinsic apoptosis pathway; Stochastic model; Intrinsic noise; Extrinsic noise
New stochastic models are developed for the dynamics of a viral infection and an immune response during the early stages of infection. The stochastic models are derived based on the dynamics of deterministic models. The simplest deterministic model is a well-known system of ordinary differential equations which consists of three populations: uninfected cells, actively infected cells, and virus particles. This basic model is extended to include some factors of the immune response related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1) infection. For the deterministic models, the basic reproduction number,
, is calculated and it is shown that if
< 1, the disease-free equilibrium is locally asymptotically stable and is globally asymptotically stable in some special cases. The new stochastic models are systems of stochastic differential equations (SDEs) and continuous-time Markov chain (CTMC) models that account for the variability in cellular reproduction and death, the infection process, the immune system activation, and viral reproduction. Two viral release strategies are considered: budding and bursting. The CTMC model is used to estimate the probability of virus extinction during the early stages of infection. Numerical simulations are carried out using parameter values applicable to HIV-1 dynamics. The stochastic models provide new insights, distinct from the basic deterministic models. For the case
> 1, the deterministic models predict the viral infection persists in the host. But for the stochastic models, there is a positive probability of viral extinction. It is shown that the probability of a successful invasion depends on the initial viral dose, whether the immune system is activated, and whether the release strategy is bursting or budding.
HIV-1 dynamics; immune response; branching process; stochastic differential equations
The inference of reaction rate parameters in biochemical network models from time series concentration data is a central task in computational systems biology. Under the assumption of well mixed conditions the network dynamics are typically described by the chemical master equation, the Fokker Planck equation, the linear noise approximation or the macroscopic rate equation. The inverse problem of estimating the parameters of the underlying network model can be approached in deterministic and stochastic ways, and available methods often compare individual or mean concentration traces obtained from experiments with theoretical model predictions when maximizing likelihoods, minimizing regularized least squares functionals, approximating posterior distributions or sequentially processing the data. In this article we assume that the biological reaction network can be observed at least partially and repeatedly over time such that sample moments of species molecule numbers for various time points can be calculated from the data. Based on the chemical master equation we furthermore derive closed systems of parameter dependent nonlinear ordinary differential equations that predict the time evolution of the statistical moments. For inferring the reaction rate parameters we suggest to not only compare the sample mean with the theoretical mean prediction but also to take the residual of higher order moments explicitly into account. Cost functions that involve residuals of higher order moments may form landscapes in the parameter space that have more pronounced curvatures at the minimizer and hence may weaken or even overcome parameter sloppiness and uncertainty. As a consequence both deterministic and stochastic parameter inference algorithms may be improved with respect to accuracy and efficiency. We demonstrate the potential of moment fitting for parameter inference by means of illustrative stochastic biological models from the literature and address topics for future research.
We develop the stochastic, chemical master equation as a unifying approach to the dynamics of biochemical reaction systems in a mesoscopic volume under a living environment. A living environment provides a continuous chemical energy input that sustains the reaction system in a nonequilibrium steady state with concentration fluctuations. We discuss the linear, unimolecular single-molecule enzyme kinetics, phosphorylation-dephosphorylation cycle (PdPC) with bistability, and network exhibiting oscillations. Emphasis is paid to the comparison between the stochastic dynamics and the prediction based on the traditional approach based on the Law of Mass Action. We introduce the difference between nonlinear bistability and stochastic bistability, the latter has no deterministic counterpart. For systems with nonlinear bistability, there are three different time scales: (a) individual biochemical reactions, (b) nonlinear network dynamics approaching to attractors, and (c) cellular evolution. For mesoscopic systems with size of a living cell, dynamics in (a) and (c) are stochastic while that with (b) is dominantly deterministic. Both (b) and (c) are emergent properties of a dynamic biochemical network; We suggest that the (c) is most relevant to major cellular biochemical processes such as epi-genetic regulation, apoptosis, and cancer immunoediting. The cellular evolution proceeds with transitions among the attractors of (b) in a “punctuated equilibrium” manner.
chemical kinetics; chemical master equation; stochastic dynamics; biochemical reaction; systems biology
Computational systems biology is concerned with the development of detailed mechanistic models of biological processes. Such models are often stochastic and analytically intractable, containing uncertain parameters that must be estimated from time course data. In this article, we consider the task of inferring the parameters of a stochastic kinetic model defined as a Markov (jump) process. Inference for the parameters of complex nonlinear multivariate stochastic process models is a challenging problem, but we find here that algorithms based on particle Markov chain Monte Carlo turn out to be a very effective computationally intensive approach to the problem. Approximations to the inferential model based on stochastic differential equations (SDEs) are considered, as well as improvements to the inference scheme that exploit the SDE structure. We apply the methodology to a Lotka–Volterra system and a prokaryotic auto-regulatory network.
chemical Langevin equation; Markov jump process; pseudo-marginal approach; sequential Monte Carlo; stochastic differential equation; stochastic kinetic model
With the observation that stochasticity is important in biological systems, chemical kinetics have begun to receive wider interest. While the use of Monte Carlo discrete event simulations most accurately capture the variability of molecular species, they become computationally costly for complex reaction-diffusion systems with large populations of molecules. On the other hand, continuous time models are computationally efficient but they fail to capture any variability in the molecular species. In this study a novel hybrid stochastic approach is introduced for simulating reaction-diffusion systems. We developed a dynamic partitioning strategy using fractional propensities. In that way processes with high frequency are simulated mostly with deterministic rate-based equations, and those with low frequency mostly with the exact stochastic algorithm of Gillespie. In this way we preserve the stochastic behavior of cellular pathways while being able to apply it to large populations of molecules. In this article we describe this hybrid algorithmic approach, and we demonstrate its accuracy and efficiency compared with the Gillespie algorithm for two different systems. First, a model of intracellular viral kinetics with two steady states and second, a compartmental model of the postsynaptic spine head for studying the dynamics of Ca+2 and NMDA receptors.
Biochemical Networks; Stochastic Simulation; Hybrid Algorithm; Chemical Master Equation; Calcium Dynamics
The shape of a cell, the sizes of subcellular compartments and the spatial distribution of molecules within the cytoplasm can all control how molecules interact to produce a cellular behavior. This chapter describes how these spatial features can be included in mechanistic mathematical models of cell signaling. The Virtual Cell computational modeling and simulation software is used to illustrate the considerations required to build a spatial model. An explanation of how to appropriately choose between physical formulations that implicitly or explicitly account for cell geometry and between deterministic vs, stochastic formulations for molecular dynamics is provided, along with a discussion of their respective strengths and weaknesses. As a first step toward constructing a spatial model, the geometry needs to be specified and associated with the molecules, reactions and membrane flux processes of the network. Initial conditions, diffusion coefficients, velocities and boundary conditions complete the specifications required to define the mathematics of the model. The numerical methods used to solve reaction-diffusion problems both deterministically and stochastically are then described and some guidance is provided in how to set up and run simulations. A study of cAMP signaling in neurons ends the chapter, providing an example of the insights that can be gained in interpreting experimental results through the application of spatial modeling.
Partial differential equations; geometry; diffusion; membrane transport; Brownian dynamics
Modelling and simulation are at the heart of the rapidly developing field of systems biology. This paper reviews various types of models, simulation methods, and theoretical approaches that are presently being used in the quantitative description of cellular processes. We first describe how molecular interaction networks can be represented by means of stoichiometric, topological and kinetic models. We briefly discuss the formulation of kinetic models using mesoscopic (stochastic) or macroscopic (continuous) approaches, and we go on to describe how detailed models of molecular interaction networks (silicon cells) can be constructed on the basis of experimentally determined kinetic parameters for cellular processes. We show how theory can help in analyzing models by applying control analysis to a recently published silicon cell model. Finally, we review some of the theoretical approaches available to analyse kinetic models and experimental data, respectively.
systems biology; biosimulations; networks; mathematical models; kinetic models
Dynamic Bayesian network (DBN) is among the mainstream approaches for modeling various biological networks, including the gene regulatory network (GRN). Most current methods for learning DBN employ either local search such as hill-climbing, or a meta stochastic global optimization framework such as genetic algorithm or simulated annealing, which are only able to locate sub-optimal solutions. Further, current DBN applications have essentially been limited to small sized networks.
To overcome the above difficulties, we introduce here a deterministic global optimization based DBN approach for reverse engineering genetic networks from time course gene expression data. For such DBN models that consist only of inter time slice arcs, we show that there exists a polynomial time algorithm for learning the globally optimal network structure. The proposed approach, named GlobalMIT+, employs the recently proposed information theoretic scoring metric named mutual information test (MIT). GlobalMIT+ is able to learn high-order time delayed genetic interactions, which are common to most biological systems. Evaluation of the approach using both synthetic and real data sets, including a 733 cyanobacterial gene expression data set, shows significantly improved performance over other techniques.
Our studies demonstrate that deterministic global optimization approaches can infer large scale genetic networks.
We present an approach for constructing dynamic models for the simulation of gene regulatory networks from simple computational elements. Each element is called a “gene gate” and defines an input∕output relationship corresponding to the binding and production of transcription factors. The proposed reaction kinetics of the gene gates can be mapped onto stochastic processes and the standard ordinary differential equation (ODE) description. While the ODE approach requires fixing the system’s topology before its correct implementation, expressing them in stochastic π-calculus leads to a fully compositional scheme: network elements become autonomous and only the input∕output relationships fix their wiring. The modularity of our approach allows to pass easily from a basic first-level description to refined models which capture more details of the biological system. As an illustrative application we present the stochastic repressilator, an artificial cellular clock, which oscillates readily without any cooperative effects.
Motivation: Modelers in Systems Biology need a flexible framework that allows them to easily create new dynamic models, investigate their properties and fit several experimental datasets simultaneously. Multi-experiment-fitting is a powerful approach to estimate parameter values, to check the validity of a given model, and to discriminate competing model hypotheses. It requires high-performance integration of ordinary differential equations and robust optimization.
Results: We here present the comprehensive modeling framework Potters-Wheel (PW) including novel functionalities to satisfy these requirements with strong emphasis on the inverse problem, i.e. data-based modeling of partially observed and noisy systems like signal transduction pathways and metabolic networks. PW is designed as a MATLAB toolbox and includes numerous user interfaces. Deterministic and stochastic optimization routines are combined by fitting in logarithmic parameter space allowing for robust parameter calibration. Model investigation includes statistical tests for model-data-compliance, model discrimination, identifiability analysis and calculation of Hessian- and Monte-Carlo-based parameter confidence limits. A rich application programming interface is available for customization within own MATLAB code. Within an extensive performance analysis, we identified and significantly improved an integrator–optimizer pair which decreases the fitting duration for a realistic benchmark model by a factor over 3000 compared to MATLAB with optimization toolbox.
Availability: PottersWheel is freely available for academic usage at http://www.PottersWheel.de/. The website contains a detailed documentation and introductory videos. The program has been intensively used since 2005 on Windows, Linux and Macintosh computers and does not require special MATLAB toolboxes.
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
For the past couple of decades, aging science has been rapidly evolving, and powerful genetic tools have identified a variety of evolutionarily conserved regulators and signaling pathways for the control of aging and longevity in model organisms. Nonetheless, a big challenge still remains to construct a comprehensive concept that could integrate many distinct layers of biological events into a systemic, hierarchical view of aging. The “heterochromatin island” hypothesis was originally proposed 10 years ago to explain deterministic and stochastic aspects of cellular and organismal aging, which drove the author to the study of evolutionarily conserved Sir2 proteins. Since a surprising discovery of their NAD-dependent deacetylase activity, Sir2 proteins, now called “sirtuins,” have been emerging as a critical epigenetic regulator for aging. In this review, I will follow the process of conceptual development from the heterochromatin island hypothesis to a novel, comprehensive concept of a systemic regulatory network for mammalian aging, named “NAD World,” summarizing recent studies on the mammalian NAD-dependent deacetylase Sirt1 and nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt)-mediated systemic NAD biosynthesis. This new concept of the NAD World provides critical insights into a systemic regulatory mechanism that fundamentally connects metabolism and aging and also conveys the ideas of functional hierarchy and frailty for the regulation of aging in mammals.
The importance of stochasticity in cellular processes having low number of molecules has resulted in the development of stochastic models such as chemical master equation. As in other modelling frameworks, the accompanying rate constants are important for the end-applications like analyzing system properties (e.g. robustness) or predicting the effects of genetic perturbations. Prior knowledge of kinetic constants is usually limited and the model identification routine typically includes parameter estimation from experimental data. Although the subject of parameter estimation is well-established for deterministic models, it is not yet routine for the chemical master equation. In addition, recent advances in measurement technology have made the quantification of genetic substrates possible to single molecular levels. Thus, the purpose of this work is to develop practical and effective methods for estimating kinetic model parameters in the chemical master equation and other stochastic models from single cell and cell population experimental data.
Three parameter estimation methods are proposed based on the maximum likelihood and density function distance, including probability and cumulative density functions. Since stochastic models such as chemical master equations are typically solved using a Monte Carlo approach in which only a finite number of Monte Carlo realizations are computationally practical, specific considerations are given to account for the effect of finite sampling in the histogram binning of the state density functions. Applications to three practical case studies showed that while maximum likelihood method can effectively handle low replicate measurements, the density function distance methods, particularly the cumulative density function distance estimation, are more robust in estimating the parameters with consistently higher accuracy, even for systems showing multimodality.
The parameter estimation methodologies described in this work have provided an effective and practical approach in the estimation of kinetic parameters of stochastic systems from either sparse or dense cell population data. Nevertheless, similar to kinetic parameter estimation in other modelling frameworks, not all parameters can be estimated accurately, which is a common problem arising from the lack of complete parameter identifiability from the available data.
The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that stochastic analyses can be performed on large and complex models within affordable costs. Stochastic analyses offer a much more realistic approach for analysis and design of components and systems although generally computationally demanding. Hence, resorting to efficient approaches and high performance computing is required in order to reduce the execution time.
A general purpose software that provides an integration between deterministic solvers (i.e. finite element solvers), efficient algorithms for uncertainty management and high performance computing is presented. The software is intended for a wide range of applications, which includes optimization analysis, life-cycle management, reliability and risk analysis, fatigue and fractures simulation, robust design.
The applicability of the proposed tools for practical applications is demonstrated by means of a number of case studies of industrial interest involving detailed models.
► A general purpose software for uncertainty management and simulation. ► Uncertainty quantification, robust design, reliability and sensitivity analysis. ► Application to multi-storey building, cylindrical shell and GOCE satellite. ► Demonstrate stochastic analysis can be performed on large and complex models.
Uncertainty quantification; Surrogate model; Finite element analysis; General purpose software; Sensitivity analysis; Optimization; Reliability; Stochastic finite element methods