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author:("smulevich, hlya")
1.  Quantitative analysis of colony morphology in yeast 
BioTechniques  2014;56(1):18-27.
Microorganisms often form multicellular structures such as biofilms and structured colonies that can influence the organism’s virulence, drug resistance, and adherence to medical devices. Phenotypic classification of these structures has traditionally relied on qualitative scoring systems that limit detailed phenotypic comparisons between strains. Automated imaging and quantitative analysis have the potential to improve the speed and accuracy of experiments designed to study the genetic and molecular networks underlying different morphological traits. For this reason, we have developed a platform that uses automated image analysis and pattern recognition to quantify phenotypic signatures of yeast colonies. Our strategy enables quantitative analysis of individual colonies, measured at a single time point or over a series of time-lapse images, as well as the classification of distinct colony shapes based on image-derived features. Phenotypic changes in colony morphology can be expressed as changes in feature space trajectories over time, thereby enabling the visualization and quantitative analysis of morphological development. To facilitate data exploration, results are plotted dynamically through an interactive Yeast Image Analysis web application (YIMAA; http://yimaa.cs.tut.fi) that integrates the raw and processed images across all time points, allowing exploration of the image-based features and principal components associated with morphological development.
doi:10.2144/000114123
PMCID: PMC3996921  PMID: 24447135
colony morphology; image analysis; software; yeast; phenotype; time-lapse
2.  Post-transcriptional regulatory network of epithelial-to-mesenchymal and mesenchymal-to-epithelial transitions 
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and its reverse process, mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET), play important roles in embryogenesis, stem cell biology, and cancer progression. EMT can be regulated by many signaling pathways and regulatory transcriptional networks. Furthermore, post-transcriptional regulatory networks regulate EMT; these networks include the long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) and microRNA (miRNA) families. Specifically, the miR-200 family, miR-101, miR-506, and several lncRNAs have been found to regulate EMT. Recent studies have illustrated that several lncRNAs are overexpressed in various cancers and that they can promote tumor metastasis by inducing EMT. MiRNA controls EMT by regulating EMT transcription factors or other EMT regulators, suggesting that lncRNAs and miRNA are novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of cancer. Further efforts have shown that non-coding-mediated EMT regulation is closely associated with epigenetic regulation through promoter methylation (e.g., miR-200 or miR-506) and protein regulation (e.g., SET8 via miR-502). The formation of gene fusions has also been found to promote EMT in prostate cancer. In this review, we discuss the post-transcriptional regulatory network that is involved in EMT and MET and how targeting EMT and MET may provide effective therapeutics for human disease.
doi:10.1186/1756-8722-7-19
PMCID: PMC3973872  PMID: 24598126
Long non-coding RNA (lncRNA); microRNA (miRNA); Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); Mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET)
3.  Integrated analyses identify a master microRNA regulatory network for the mesenchymal subtype in serous ovarian cancer 
Cancer cell  2013;23(2):186-199.
Summary
Integrated genomic analyses revealed a miRNA-regulatory network, which further defined a robust integrated mesenchymal subtype associated with poor overall survival in 459 cases of serous ovarian cancer (OvCa) from The Cancer Genome Atlas and 560 cases from independent cohorts. Eight key miRNAs, including miR-506, miR-141 and miR-200a, were predicted to regulate 89% of the targets in this network. Follow-up functional experiments illustrate that miR-506 augmented E-cadherin expression, inhibited cell migration and invasion, and prevented TGFβ-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by targeting SNAI2, a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin. In human OvCa, miR-506 expression was correlated with decreased SNAI2 and VIM, elevated E-cadherin, and beneficial prognosis. Nanoparticle delivery of miR-506 in orthotopic OvCa mouse models led to E-cadherin induction and reduced tumor growth.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2012.12.020
PMCID: PMC3603369  PMID: 23410973
4.  The Cancer Genome Atlas Pan-Cancer Analysis Project 
Nature genetics  2013;45(10):1113-1120.
Cancer can take hundreds of different forms depending on the location, cell of origin and spectrum of genomic alterations that promote oncogenesis and affect therapeutic response. Although many genomic events with direct phenotypic impact have been identified, much of the complex molecular landscape remains incompletely charted for most cancer lineages. For that reason, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network has profiled and analyzed large numbers of human tumours to discover molecular aberrations at the DNA, RNA, protein, and epigenetic levels. The resulting rich data provide a major opportunity to develop an integrated picture of commonalities, differences, and emergent themes across tumour lineages. The Pan-Cancer initiative compares the first twelve tumour types profiled by TCGA. Analysis of the molecular aberrations and their functional roles across tumour types will teach us how to extend therapies effective in one cancer type to others with a similar genomic profile.
doi:10.1038/ng.2764
PMCID: PMC3919969  PMID: 24071849
5.  Transcriptome and Small RNA Deep Sequencing Reveals Deregulation of miRNA Biogenesis in Human Glioma 
The Journal of pathology  2013;229(3):10.1002/path.4109.
Altered expression of oncogenic and tumor-suppressing microRNAs (miRNAs) is widely associated with tumorigenesis. However, the regulatory mechanisms underlying these alterations are poorly understood. We sought to shed light on the deregulation of miRNA biogenesis promoting the aberrant miRNA expression profiles identified in these tumors. Using sequencing technology to perform both whole-transcriptome and small RNA sequencing of glioma patient samples, we examined precursor and mature miRNAs to directly evaluate the miRNA maturation process, and interrogated expression profiles for genes involved in the major steps of miRNA biogenesis. We found that ratios of mature to precursor forms of a large number of miRNAs increased with the progression from normal brain to low-grade and then to high-grade gliomas. The expression levels of genes involved in each of the three major steps of miRNA biogenesis (nuclear processing, nucleo-cytoplasmic transport, and cytoplasmic processing) were systematically altered in glioma tissues. Survival analysis of an independent data set demonstrated that the alteration of genes involved in miRNA maturation correlates with survival in glioma patients. Direct quantification of miRNA maturation with deep sequencing demonstrated that deregulation of the miRNA biogenesis pathway is a hallmark for glioma genesis and progression.
doi:10.1002/path.4109
PMCID: PMC3857031  PMID: 23007860
microRNA; biogenesis; glioma
6.  POMO - Plotting Omics analysis results for Multiple Organisms 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:918.
Background
Systems biology experiments studying different topics and organisms produce thousands of data values across different types of genomic data. Further, data mining analyses are yielding ranked and heterogeneous results and association networks distributed over the entire genome. The visualization of these results is often difficult and standalone web tools allowing for custom inputs and dynamic filtering are limited.
Results
We have developed POMO (http://pomo.cs.tut.fi), an interactive web-based application to visually explore omics data analysis results and associations in circular, network and grid views. The circular graph represents the chromosome lengths as perimeter segments, as a reference outer ring, such as cytoband for human. The inner arcs between nodes represent the uploaded network. Further, multiple annotation rings, for example depiction of gene copy number changes, can be uploaded as text files and represented as bar, histogram or heatmap rings. POMO has built-in references for human, mouse, nematode, fly, yeast, zebrafish, rice, tomato, Arabidopsis, and Escherichia coli. In addition, POMO provides custom options that allow integrated plotting of unsupported strains or closely related species associations, such as human and mouse orthologs or two yeast wild types, studied together within a single analysis. The web application also supports interactive label and weight filtering. Every iterative filtered result in POMO can be exported as image file and text file for sharing or direct future input.
Conclusions
The POMO web application is a unique tool for omics data analysis, which can be used to visualize and filter the genome-wide networks in the context of chromosomal locations as well as multiple network layouts. With the several illustration and filtering options the tool supports the analysis and visualization of any heterogeneous omics data analysis association results for many organisms. POMO is freely available and does not require any installation or registration.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-918
PMCID: PMC3880012  PMID: 24365393
Omics; Association; Visualization; Ortholog; Phenolog; Genome-wide; Network; Model organism
7.  Differing clinical impact of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in serous ovarian cancer 
Pharmacogenomics  2012;13(13):1523-1535.
A key function of BRCA1 and BRCA2 is the participation in dsDNAbreak repair via homologous recombination. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, which occur in most hereditary ovarian cancers (OCs) and approximately 10% of all OC cases, are associated with defects in homologous recombination and genomic instability, a phenotype termed ‘BRCAness’. The clinical effects of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have commonly been analyzed together; however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these mutations do not have the same effects in OC. Recently, three major reports highlighted the unequal clinical characteristics of OCs with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. All studies demonstrated that BRCA2-mutated patients are associated with better survival and therapeutic response than BRCA1-mutated and wild-type patients with serous OC. The differing prognostic effects of the BRCA2 and BRCA1 mutations is likely due to differing roles of BRCA1 and BRCA2 in homologous recombination repair and a stronger association between the BRCA2 mutation and a hypermutator phenotype. These new findings have potentially important implications for clinical management of patients with serous OC.
doi:10.2217/pgs.12.137
PMCID: PMC3603383  PMID: 23057551
BRCA mutation; drug response; homologous recombination; ovarian cancer; PARP inhibitor; survival
8.  On the Limitations of Biological Knowledge 
Current Genomics  2012;13(7):574-587.
Scientific knowledge is grounded in a particular epistemology and, owing to the requirements of that epistemology, possesses limitations. Some limitations are intrinsic, in the sense that they depend inherently on the nature of scientific knowledge; others are contingent, depending on the present state of knowledge, including technology. Understanding limitations facilitates scientific research because one can then recognize when one is confronted by a limitation, as opposed to simply being unable to solve a problem within the existing bounds of possibility. In the hope that the role of limiting factors can be brought more clearly into focus and discussed, we consider several sources of limitation as they apply to biological knowledge: mathematical complexity, experimental constraints, validation, knowledge discovery, and human intellectual capacity.
doi:10.2174/138920212803251445
PMCID: PMC3468890  PMID: 23633917
Complexity; Gene regulatory networks; Epistemology; Experimental design; Genomics; Knowledge discovery; Modeling; Validation.
9.  Information-Theoretic Analysis of the Dynamics of an Executable Biological Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59303.
To facilitate analysis and understanding of biological systems, large-scale data are often integrated into models using a variety of mathematical and computational approaches. Such models describe the dynamics of the biological system and can be used to study the changes in the state of the system over time. For many model classes, such as discrete or continuous dynamical systems, there exist appropriate frameworks and tools for analyzing system dynamics. However, the heterogeneous information that encodes and bridges molecular and cellular dynamics, inherent to fine-grained molecular simulation models, presents significant challenges to the study of system dynamics. In this paper, we present an algorithmic information theory based approach for the analysis and interpretation of the dynamics of such executable models of biological systems. We apply a normalized compression distance (NCD) analysis to the state representations of a model that simulates the immune decision making and immune cell behavior. We show that this analysis successfully captures the essential information in the dynamics of the system, which results from a variety of events including proliferation, differentiation, or perturbations such as gene knock-outs. We demonstrate that this approach can be used for the analysis of executable models, regardless of the modeling framework, and for making experimentally quantifiable predictions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059303
PMCID: PMC3602105  PMID: 23527156
10.  Fastbreak: a tool for analysis and visualization of structural variations in genomic data 
Genomic studies are now being undertaken on thousands of samples requiring new computational tools that can rapidly analyze data to identify clinically important features. Inferring structural variations in cancer genomes from mate-paired reads is a combinatorially difficult problem. We introduce Fastbreak, a fast and scalable toolkit that enables the analysis and visualization of large amounts of data from projects such as The Cancer Genome Atlas.
doi:10.1186/1687-4153-2012-15
PMCID: PMC3605143  PMID: 23046488
Cancer genomics; Structural variation; Translocation
11.  Increasing Coverage of Transcription Factor Position Weight Matrices through Domain-level Homology 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42779.
Transcription factor-DNA interactions, central to cellular regulation and control, are commonly described by position weight matrices (PWMs). These matrices are frequently used to predict transcription factor binding sites in regulatory regions of DNA to complement and guide further experimental investigation. The DNA sequence preferences of transcription factors, encoded in PWMs, are dictated primarily by select residues within the DNA binding domain(s) that interact directly with DNA. Therefore, the DNA binding properties of homologous transcription factors with identical DNA binding domains may be characterized by PWMs derived from different species. Accordingly, we have implemented a fully automated domain-level homology searching method for identical DNA binding sequences.
By applying the domain-level homology search to transcription factors with existing PWMs in the JASPAR and TRANSFAC databases, we were able to significantly increase coverage in terms of the total number of PWMs associated with a given species, assign PWMs to transcription factors that did not previously have any associations, and increase the number of represented species with PWMs over an order of magnitude. Additionally, using protein binding microarray (PBM) data, we have validated the domain-level method by demonstrating that transcription factor pairs with matching DNA binding domains exhibit comparable DNA binding specificity predictions to transcription factor pairs with completely identical sequences.
The increased coverage achieved herein demonstrates the potential for more thorough species-associated investigation of protein-DNA interactions using existing resources. The PWM scanning results highlight the challenging nature of transcription factors that contain multiple DNA binding domains, as well as the impact of motif discovery on the ability to predict DNA binding properties. The method is additionally suitable for identifying domain-level homology mappings to enable utilization of additional information sources in the study of transcription factors. The domain-level homology search method, resulting PWM mappings, web-based user interface, and web API are publicly available at http://dodoma.systemsbiology.netdodoma.systemsbiology.net.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042779
PMCID: PMC3428306  PMID: 22952610
12.  Integrated Analysis of Gene Expression and Tumor Nuclear Image Profiles Associated with Chemotherapy Response in Serous Ovarian Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36383.
Background
Small sample sizes used in previous studies result in a lack of overlap between the reported gene signatures for prediction of chemotherapy response. Although morphologic features, especially tumor nuclear morphology, are important for cancer grading, little research has been reported on quantitatively correlating cellular morphology with chemotherapy response, especially in a large data set. In this study, we have used a large population of patients to identify molecular and morphologic signatures associated with chemotherapy response in serous ovarian carcinoma.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A gene expression model that predicts response to chemotherapy is developed and validated using a large-scale data set consisting of 493 samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and 244 samples from an Australian report. An identified 227-gene signature achieves an overall predictive accuracy of greater than 85% with a sensitivity of approximately 95% and specificity of approximately 70%. The gene signature significantly distinguishes between patients with unfavorable versus favorable prognosis, when applied to either an independent data set (P = 0.04) or an external validation set (P<0.0001). In parallel, we present the production of a tumor nuclear image profile generated from 253 sample slides by characterizing patients with nuclear features (such as size, elongation, and roundness) in incremental bins, and we identify a morphologic signature that demonstrates a strong association with chemotherapy response in serous ovarian carcinoma.
Conclusions
A gene signature discovered on a large data set provides robustness in accurately predicting chemotherapy response in serous ovarian carcinoma. The combination of the molecular and morphologic signatures yields a new understanding of potential mechanisms involved in drug resistance.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036383
PMCID: PMC3348145  PMID: 22590536
13.  DETERMINISTIC AND STOCHASTIC MODELS OF GENETIC REGULATORY NETWORKS 
Methods in enzymology  2009;467:335-356.
Traditionally molecular biology research has tended to reduce biological pathways to composite units studied as isolated parts of the cellular system. With the advent of high throughput methodologies that can capture thousands of data points, and powerful computational approaches, the reality of studying cellular processes at a systems level is upon us. As these approaches yield massive datasets, systems level analyses have drawn upon other fields such as engineering and mathematics, adapting computational and statistical approaches to decipher relationships between molecules. Guided by high quality datasets and analyses, one can begin the process of predictive modeling. The findings from such approaches are often surprising and beyond normal intuition. We discuss four classes of dynamical systems used to model genetic regulatory networks. The discussion is divided into continuous and discrete models, as well as deterministic and stochastic model classes. For each combination of these categories, a model is presented and discussed in the context of the yeast cell cycle, illustrating how different types of questions can be addressed by different model classes.
doi:10.1016/S0076-6879(09)67013-0
PMCID: PMC3230268  PMID: 19897099
14.  EPEPT: A web service for enhanced P-value estimation in permutation tests 
BMC Bioinformatics  2011;12:411.
Background
In computational biology, permutation tests have become a widely used tool to assess the statistical significance of an event under investigation. However, the common way of computing the P-value, which expresses the statistical significance, requires a very large number of permutations when small (and thus interesting) P-values are to be accurately estimated. This is computationally expensive and often infeasible. Recently, we proposed an alternative estimator, which requires far fewer permutations compared to the standard empirical approach while still reliably estimating small P-values [1].
Results
The proposed P-value estimator has been enriched with additional functionalities and is made available to the general community through a public website and web service, called EPEPT. This means that the EPEPT routines can be accessed not only via a website, but also programmatically using any programming language that can interact with the web. Examples of web service clients in multiple programming languages can be downloaded. Additionally, EPEPT accepts data of various common experiment types used in computational biology. For these experiment types EPEPT first computes the permutation values and then performs the P-value estimation. Finally, the source code of EPEPT can be downloaded.
Conclusions
Different types of users, such as biologists, bioinformaticians and software engineers, can use the method in an appropriate and simple way.
Availability
http://informatics.systemsbiology.net/EPEPT/
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-12-411
PMCID: PMC3277916  PMID: 22024252
15.  A regression model approach to enable cell morphology correction in high-throughput flow cytometry 
Large variations in cell size and shape can undermine traditional gating methods for analyzing flow cytometry data. Correcting for these effects enables analysis of high-throughput data sets, including >5000 yeast samples with diverse cell morphologies.
The regression model approach corrects for the effects of cell morphology on fluorescence, as well as an extremely small and restrictive gate, but without removing any of the cells.In contrast to traditional gating, this approach enables the quantitative analysis of high-throughput flow cytometry experiments, since the regression model can compare between biological samples that show no or little overlap in terms of the morphology of the cells.The analysis of a high-throughput yeast flow cytometry data set consisting of >5000 biological samples identified key proteins that affect the time and intensity of the bifurcation event that happens after the carbon source transition from glucose to fatty acids. Here, some yeast cells undergo major structural changes, while others do not.
Flow cytometry is a widely used technique that enables the measurement of different optical properties of individual cells within large populations of cells in a fast and automated manner. For example, by targeting cell-specific markers with fluorescent probes, flow cytometry is used to identify (and isolate) cell types within complex mixtures of cells. In addition, fluorescence reporters can be used in conjunction with flow cytometry to measure protein, RNA or DNA concentration within single cells of a population.
One of the biggest advantages of this technique is that it provides information of how each cell behaves instead of just measuring the population average. This can be essential when analyzing complex samples that consist of diverse cell types or when measuring cellular responses to stimuli. For example, there is an important difference between a 50% expression increase of all cells in a population after stimulation and a 100% increase in only half of the cells, while the other half remains unresponsive. Another important advantage of flow cytometry is automation, which enables high-throughput studies with thousands of samples and conditions. However, current methods are confounded by populations of cells that are non-uniform in terms of size and granularity. Such variability affects the emitted fluorescence of the cell and adds undesired variability when estimating population fluorescence. This effect also frustrates a sensible comparison between conditions, where not only fluorescence but also cell size and granularity may be affected.
Traditionally, this problem has been addressed by using ‘gates' that restrict the analysis to cells with similar morphological properties (i.e. cell size and cell granularity). Because cells inside the gate are morphologically similar to one another, they will show a smaller variability in their response within the population. Moreover, applying the same gate in all samples assures that observed differences between these samples are not due to differential cell morphologies.
Gating, however, comes with costs. First, since only a subgroup of cells is selected, the final number of cells analyzed can be significantly reduced. This means that in order to have sufficient statistical power, more cells have to be acquired, which, if even possible in the first place, increases the time and cost of the experiment. Second, finding a good gate for all samples and conditions can be challenging if not impossible, especially in cases where cellular morphology changes dramatically between conditions. Finally, gating is a very user-dependent process, where both the size and shape of the gate are determined by the researcher and will affect the outcome, introducing subjectivity in the analysis that complicates reproducibility.
In this paper, we present an alternative method to gating that addresses the issues stated above. The method is based on a regression model containing linear and non-linear terms that estimates and corrects for the effect of cell size and granularity on the observed fluorescence of each cell in a sample. The corrected fluorescence thus becomes ‘free' of the morphological effects.
Because the model uses all cells in the sample, it assures that the corrected fluorescence is an accurate representation of the sample. In addition, the regression model can predict the expected fluorescence of a sample in areas where there are no cells. This makes it possible to compare between samples that have little overlap with good confidence. Furthermore, because the regression model is automated, it is fully reproducible between labs and conditions. Finally, it allows for a rapid analysis of big data sets containing thousands of samples.
To probe the validity of the model, we performed several experiments. We show how the regression model is able to remove the morphological-associated variability as well as an extremely small and restrictive gate, but without the caveat of removing cells. We test the method in different organisms (yeast and human) and applications (protein level detection, separation of mixed subpopulations). We then apply this method to unveil new biological insights in the mechanistic processes involved in transcriptional noise.
Gene transcription is a process subjected to the randomness intrinsic to any molecular event. Although such randomness may seem to be undesirable for the cell, since it prevents consistent behavior, there are situations where some degree of randomness is beneficial (e.g. bet hedging). For this reason, each gene is tuned to exhibit different levels of randomness or noise depending on its functions. For core and essential genes, the cell has developed mechanisms to lower the level of noise, while for genes involved in the response to stress, the variability is greater.
This gene transcription tuning can be determined at many levels, from the architecture of the transcriptional network, to epigenetic regulation. In our study, we analyze the latter using the response of yeast to the presence of fatty acid in the environment. Fatty acid can be used as energy by yeast, but it requires major structural changes and commitments. We have observed that at the population level, there is a bifurcation event whereby some cells undergo these changes and others do not. We have analyzed this bifurcation event in mutants for all the non-essential epigenetic regulators in yeast and identified key proteins that affect the time and intensity of this bifurcation. Even though fatty acid triggers major morphological changes in the cell, the regression model still makes it possible to analyze the over 5000 flow cytometry samples in this data set in an automated manner, whereas a traditional gating approach would be impossible.
Cells exposed to stimuli exhibit a wide range of responses ensuring phenotypic variability across the population. Such single cell behavior is often examined by flow cytometry; however, gating procedures typically employed to select a small subpopulation of cells with similar morphological characteristics make it difficult, even impossible, to quantitatively compare cells across a large variety of experimental conditions because these conditions can lead to profound morphological variations. To overcome these limitations, we developed a regression approach to correct for variability in fluorescence intensity due to differences in cell size and granularity without discarding any of the cells, which gating ipso facto does. This approach enables quantitative studies of cellular heterogeneity and transcriptional noise in high-throughput experiments involving thousands of samples. We used this approach to analyze a library of yeast knockout strains and reveal genes required for the population to establish a bimodal response to oleic acid induction. We identify a group of epigenetic regulators and nucleoporins that, by maintaining an ‘unresponsive population,' may provide the population with the advantage of diversified bet hedging.
doi:10.1038/msb.2011.64
PMCID: PMC3202802  PMID: 21952134
flow cytometry; high-throughput experiments; statistical regression model; transcriptional noise
16.  Trade-off between Responsiveness and Noise Suppression in Biomolecular System Responses to Environmental Cues 
PLoS Computational Biology  2011;7(6):e1002091.
When living systems detect changes in their external environment their response must be measured to balance the need to react appropriately with the need to remain stable, ignoring insignificant signals. Because this is a fundamental challenge of all biological systems that execute programs in response to stimuli, we developed a generalized time-frequency analysis (TFA) framework to systematically explore the dynamical properties of biomolecular networks. Using TFA, we focused on two well-characterized yeast gene regulatory networks responsive to carbon-source shifts and a mammalian innate immune regulatory network responsive to lipopolysaccharides (LPS). The networks are comprised of two different basic architectures. Dual positive and negative feedback loops make up the yeast galactose network; whereas overlapping positive and negative feed-forward loops are common to the yeast fatty-acid response network and the LPS-induced network of macrophages. TFA revealed remarkably distinct network behaviors in terms of trade-offs in responsiveness and noise suppression that are appropriately tuned to each biological response. The wild type galactose network was found to be highly responsive while the oleate network has greater noise suppression ability. The LPS network appeared more balanced, exhibiting less bias toward noise suppression or responsiveness. Exploration of the network parameter space exposed dramatic differences in system behaviors for each network. These studies highlight fundamental structural and dynamical principles that underlie each network, reveal constrained parameters of positive and negative feedback and feed-forward strengths that tune the networks appropriately for their respective biological roles, and demonstrate the general utility of the TFA approach for systems and synthetic biology.
Author Summary
Biological systems constantly balance noise suppression with responsiveness. In a fluctuating environment, some changes are insignificant to living cells while others represent cues to which they must respond. These stimuli are interpreted by molecular circuits that enable the cell to strike an appropriate balance between responsiveness and noise suppression. This trade-off is governed by the structure and kinetic parameters of molecular networks, which have been tuned by evolutionary selection for different stimuli and responses. We consider three regulatory circuits (two from yeast and one from mammalian cells), which respond to different environments and involve very different physiological processes. To investigate the responses to a time varying signal, we developed a generalized time-frequency analysis framework for studying such trade-offs using mathematical models of regulatory circuits and explore how the structure and parameters of the circuit affect the trade-offs between noise suppression and responsiveness. The generalized TFA approach represents an effective tool for exploring and analyzing different systems-level dynamical properties. Making use of such properties can facilitate prediction and network control for systems- and synthetic biology applications.
doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002091
PMCID: PMC3127798  PMID: 21738459
17.  Taming Data 
Cell host & microbe  2008;4(4):312-313.
A challenge in systems-level investigations of the immune response is the principled integration of disparate data sets for constructing predictive models. InnateDB (Lynn et al., 2008; http://www.innatedb.ca), a publicly available, manually curated database of experimentally verified molecular interactions and pathways involved in innate immunity, is a powerful new resource that facilitates such integrative systems-level analyses.
doi:10.1016/j.chom.2008.09.011
PMCID: PMC3074406  PMID: 18854235
18.  Genome-Wide Analysis of Effectors of Peroxisome Biogenesis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(8):e11953.
Peroxisomes are intracellular organelles that house a number of diverse metabolic processes, notably those required for β-oxidation of fatty acids. Peroxisomes biogenesis can be induced by the presence of peroxisome proliferators, including fatty acids, which activate complex cellular programs that underlie the induction process. Here, we used multi-parameter quantitative phenotype analyses of an arrayed mutant collection of yeast cells induced to proliferate peroxisomes, to establish a comprehensive inventory of genes required for peroxisome induction and function. The assays employed include growth in the presence of fatty acids, and confocal imaging and flow cytometry through the induction process. In addition to the classical phenotypes associated with loss of peroxisomal functions, these studies identified 169 genes required for robust signaling, transcription, normal peroxisomal development and morphologies, and transmission of peroxisomes to daughter cells. These gene products are localized throughout the cell, and many have indirect connections to peroxisome function. By integration with extant data sets, we present a total of 211 genes linked to peroxisome biogenesis and highlight the complex networks through which information flows during peroxisome biogenesis and function.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0011953
PMCID: PMC2915925  PMID: 20694151
19.  Genome-wide histone acetylation data improve prediction of mammalian transcription factor binding sites 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(17):2071-2075.
Motivation: Histone acetylation (HAc) is associated with open chromatin, and HAc has been shown to facilitate transcription factor (TF) binding in mammalian cells. In the innate immune system context, epigenetic studies strongly implicate HAc in the transcriptional response of activated macrophages. We hypothesized that using data from large-scale sequencing of a HAc chromatin immunoprecipitation assay (ChIP-Seq) would improve the performance of computational prediction of binding locations of TFs mediating the response to a signaling event, namely, macrophage activation.
Results: We tested this hypothesis using a multi-evidence approach for predicting binding sites. As a training/test dataset, we used ChIP-Seq-derived TF binding site locations for five TFs in activated murine macrophages. Our model combined TF binding site motif scanning with evidence from sequence-based sources and from HAc ChIP-Seq data, using a weighted sum of thresholded scores. We find that using HAc data significantly improves the performance of motif-based TF binding site prediction. Furthermore, we find that within regions of high HAc, local minima of the HAc ChIP-Seq signal are particularly strongly correlated with TF binding locations. Our model, using motif scanning and HAc local minima, improves the sensitivity for TF binding site prediction by ∼50% over a model based on motif scanning alone, at a false positive rate cutoff of 0.01.
Availability: The data and software source code for model training and validation are freely available online at http://magnet.systemsbiology.net/hac.
Contact: aderem@systemsbiology.org; ishmulevich@systemsbiology.org
Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq405
PMCID: PMC2922897  PMID: 20663846
20.  SEQADAPT: an adaptable system for the tracking, storage and analysis of high throughput sequencing experiments 
BMC Bioinformatics  2010;11:377.
Background
High throughput sequencing has become an increasingly important tool for biological research. However, the existing software systems for managing and processing these data have not provided the flexible infrastructure that research requires.
Results
Existing software solutions provide static and well-established algorithms in a restrictive package. However as high throughput sequencing is a rapidly evolving field, such static approaches lack the ability to readily adopt the latest advances and techniques which are often required by researchers. We have used a loosely coupled, service-oriented infrastructure to develop SeqAdapt. This system streamlines data management and allows for rapid integration of novel algorithms. Our approach also allows computational biologists to focus on developing and applying new methods instead of writing boilerplate infrastructure code.
Conclusion
The system is based around the Addama service architecture and is available at our website as a demonstration web application, an installable single download and as a collection of individual customizable services.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-11-377
PMCID: PMC2916924  PMID: 20630057
21.  Probabilistic analysis of gene expression measurements from heterogeneous tissues 
Bioinformatics  2010;26(20):2571-2577.
Motivation: Tissue heterogeneity, arising from multiple cell types, is a major confounding factor in experiments that focus on studying cell types, e.g. their expression profiles, in isolation. Although sample heterogeneity can be addressed by manual microdissection, prior to conducting experiments, computational treatment on heterogeneous measurements have become a reliable alternative to perform this microdissection in silico. Favoring computation over manual purification has its advantages, such as time consumption, measuring responses of multiple cell types simultaneously, keeping samples intact of external perturbations and unaltered yield of molecular content.
Results: We formalize a probabilistic model, DSection, and show with simulations as well as with real microarray data that DSection attains increased modeling accuracy in terms of (i) estimating cell-type proportions of heterogeneous tissue samples, (ii) estimating replication variance and (iii) identifying differential expression across cell types under various experimental conditions. As our reference we use the corresponding linear regression model, which mirrors the performance of the majority of current non-probabilistic modeling approaches.
Availability and Software: All codes are written in Matlab, and are freely available upon request as well as at the project web page http://www.cs.tut.fi/∼erkkila2/. Furthermore, a web-application for DSection exists at http://informatics.systemsbiology.net/DSection.
Contact: timo.p.erkkila@tut.fi; harri.lahdesmaki@tut.fi
doi:10.1093/bioinformatics/btq406
PMCID: PMC2951082  PMID: 20631160
22.  Age-Dependent Signature of Metallothionein Expression in Primary CD4 T Cell Responses Is Due to Sustained Zinc Signaling 
Rejuvenation research  2008;11(6):1001-1011.
The ability to mount adaptive immune responses to vaccinations and viral infections declines with increasing age. To identify mechanisms leading to immunosenescence, primary CD4 T cell responses were examined in 60- to 75-year-old individuals lacking overt functional defects. Transcriptome analysis indicated a selective defect in zinc homeostasis. CD4 T cell activation was associated with zinc influx via the zinc transporter Zip6, leading to increased free cytoplasmic zinc and activation of negative feedback loops, including the induction of zinc-binding metallothioneins. In young adults, activation-induced cytoplasmic zinc concentrations declined after 2 days to below prestimulation levels. In contrast, activated naïve CD4 T cells from older individuals failed to downregulate cytoplasmic zinc, resulting in excessive induction of metallothioneins. Activation-induced metallothioneins regulated the redox state in activated T cells and accounted for an increased proliferation of old CD4 T cells, suggesting that regulation of T cell zinc homeostasis functions as a compensatory mechanism to preserve the replicative potential of naïve CD4 T cells with age.
doi:10.1089/rej.2008.0747
PMCID: PMC2848531  PMID: 19072254
23.  Age-Dependent Signature of Metallothionein Expression in Primary CD4 T Cell Responses Is Due to Sustained Zinc Signaling 
Rejuvenation Research  2008;11(6):1001-1011.
Abstract
The ability to mount adaptive immune responses to vaccinations and viral infections declines with increasing age. To identify mechanisms leading to immunosenescence, primary CD4 T cell responses were examined in 60- to 75-year-old individuals lacking overt functional defects. Transcriptome analysis indicated a selective defect in zinc homeostasis. CD4 T cell activation was associated with zinc influx via the zinc transporter Zip6, leading to increased free cytoplasmic zinc and activation of negative feedback loops, including the induction of zinc-binding metallothioneins. In young adults, activation-induced cytoplasmic zinc concentrations declined after 2 days to below prestimulation levels. In contrast, activated naïve CD4 T cells from older individuals failed to downregulate cytoplasmic zinc, resulting in excessive induction of metallothioneins. Activation-induced metallothioneins regulated the redox state in activated T cells and accounted for an increased proliferation of old CD4 T cells, suggesting that regulation of T cell zinc homeostasis functions as a compensatory mechanism to preserve the replicative potential of naïve CD4 T cells with age.
doi:10.1089/rej.2008.0747
PMCID: PMC2848531  PMID: 19072254
24.  Role of the transcription factor C/EBPδ in a regulatory circuit that discriminates between transient and persistent Toll-like receptor 4-induced signals 
Nature immunology  2009;10(4):437-443.
The innate immune system is a two-edged sword; it is absolutely required for host defense against infection but, uncontrolled, can trigger a plethora of inflammatory diseases. Here we used systems biology approaches to predict and validate a gene regulatory network involving a dynamic interplay between the transcription factors NF-κB, C/EBPδ, and ATF3 that controls inflammatory responses. We mathematically modeled transcriptional regulation of Il6 and Cebpd genes and experimentally validated the prediction that the combination of an initiator (NF-κB), an amplifier (C/EBPδ) and an attenuator (ATF3) forms a regulatory circuit that discriminates between transient and persistent Toll-like receptor 4-induced signals. Our results suggest a mechanism that enables the innate immune system to detect the duration of infection and to respond appropriately.
doi:10.1038/ni.1721
PMCID: PMC2780024  PMID: 19270711
25.  A data integration framework for prediction of transcription factor targets: a BCL6 case study 
We present a computational framework for predicting targets of transcription factor regulation. The framework is based on the integration of a number of sources of evidence, derived from DNA sequence and gene expression data, using a weighted sum approach. Sources of evidence are prioritized based on a training set, and their relative contributions are then optimized. The performance of the proposed framework is demonstrated in the context of BCL6 target prediction. We show that this framework is able to uncover BCL6 targets reliably when biological prior information is utilized effectively, particularly in the case of sequence analysis. The framework results in a considerable gain in performance over scores in which sequence information was not incorporated. This analysis shows that with assessment of the quality and biological relevance of the data, reliable predictions can be obtained with this computational framework.
doi:10.1111/j.1749-6632.2008.03758.x
PMCID: PMC2771581  PMID: 19348642
network inference; transcription factor binding site prediction; data integration

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