We present systemsDock, a web server for network pharmacology-based prediction and analysis, which permits docking simulation and molecular pathway map for comprehensive characterization of ligand selectivity and interpretation of ligand action on a complex molecular network. It incorporates an elaborately designed scoring function for molecular docking to assess protein–ligand binding potential. For large-scale screening and ease of investigation, systemsDock has a user-friendly GUI interface for molecule preparation, parameter specification and result inspection. Ligand binding potentials against individual proteins can be directly displayed on an uploaded molecular interaction map, allowing users to systemically investigate network-dependent effects of a drug or drug candidate. A case study is given to demonstrate how systemsDock can be used to discover a test compound's multi-target activity. systemsDock is freely accessible at http://systemsdock.unit.oist.jp/.
Host factors required for viral replication are ideal drug targets because they are less likely than viral proteins to mutate under drug-mediated selective pressure. Although genome-wide screens have identified host proteins involved in influenza virus replication, limited mechanistic understanding of how these factors affect influenza has hindered potential drug development. We conducted a systematic analysis to identify and validate host factors that associate with influenza virus proteins and affect viral replication. After identifying over one thousand host factors that co-immunoprecipitate with specific viral proteins, we generated a network of virus-host protein interactions based on the stage of the viral lifecycle affected upon host factor down-regulation. Using compounds that inhibit these host factors, we validated several proteins, notably Golgi-specific brefeldin A resistant guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GBF1) and JAK1, as potential antiviral drug targets. Thus, virus-host interactome screens are powerful strategies to identify targetable host factors and guide antiviral drug development.
Identifying promising compounds during the early stages of drug development is a major challenge for both academia and the pharmaceutical industry. The difficulties are even more pronounced when we consider multi-target pharmacology, where the compounds often target more than one protein, or multiple compounds are used together. Here, we address this problem by using machine learning and network analysis to process sequence and interaction data from human proteins to identify promising compounds. We used this strategy to identify properties that make certain proteins more likely to cause harmful effects when targeted; such proteins usually have domains commonly found throughout the human proteome. Additionally, since currently marketed drugs hit multiple targets simultaneously, we combined the information from individual proteins to devise a score that quantifies the likelihood of a compound being harmful to humans. This approach enabled us to distinguish between approved and problematic drugs with an accuracy of 60–70%. Moreover, our approach can be applied as soon as candidate drugs are available, as demonstrated with predictions for more than 5000 experimental drugs. These resources are available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/psin/.
multi-target drugs; drug safety; target validation; machine learning; protein networks; supervised learning
Influenza viruses present major challenges to public health, evident by the 2009 influenza pandemic. Highly pathogenic influenza virus infections generally coincide with early, high levels of inflammatory cytokines that some studies have suggested may be regulated in a strain-dependent manner. However, a comprehensive characterization of the complex dynamics of the inflammatory response induced by virulent influenza strains is lacking. Here, we applied gene co-expression and nonlinear regression analysis to time-course, microarray data developed from influenza-infected mouse lung to create mathematical models of the host inflammatory response. We found that the dynamics of inflammation-associated gene expression are regulated by an ultrasensitive-like mechanism in which low levels of virus induce minimal gene expression but expression is strongly induced once a threshold virus titer is exceeded. Cytokine assays confirmed that the production of several key inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin 6 and monocyte chemotactic protein 1, exhibit ultrasensitive behavior. A systematic exploration of the pathways regulating the inflammatory-associated gene response suggests that the molecular origins of this ultrasensitive response mechanism lie within the branch of the Toll-like receptor pathway that regulates STAT1 phosphorylation. This study provides the first evidence of an ultrasensitive mechanism regulating influenza virus-induced inflammation in whole lungs and provides insight into how different virus strains can induce distinct temporal inflammation response profiles. The approach developed here should facilitate the construction of gene regulatory models of other infectious diseases.
Vaccines suffice for protecting public health against seasonal influenza viruses, but when unexpected strains appear against which the vaccine does not confer protection, alternative treatments are necessary. In this work, we used gene expression and virus growth data from influenza-infected mice to determine how moderate and deadly influenza viruses may invoke unique inflammatory responses and the role these responses play in disease pathology. We found that the relationship between virus growth and the inflammatory response for all viruses tested can be characterized by ultrasensitive response in which the inflammatory response is gated until a threshold concentration of virus is exceeded in the lung after which strong inflammatory gene expression and cytokine production occurs. This finding challenges the notion that deadly influenza viruses invoke unique cytokine and inflammatory responses and provides additional evidence that pathology is regulated by virus load, albeit in a highly nonlinear fashion. These findings suggests immunomodulatory treatments could focus on altering inflammatory response dynamics to improve disease pathology.
Occasional transmission of highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses to humans causes severe pneumonia with high mortality. To better understand the mechanisms via which H5N1 viruses induce severe disease in humans, we infected cynomolgus macaques with six different H5N1 strains isolated from human patients and compared their pathogenicity and the global host responses to the virus infection. Although all H5N1 viruses replicated in the respiratory tract, there was substantial heterogeneity in their replicative ability and in the disease severity induced, which ranged from asymptomatic to fatal. A comparison of global gene expression between severe and mild disease cases indicated that interferon-induced upregulation of genes related to innate immunity, apoptosis, and antigen processing/presentation in the early phase of infection was limited in severe disease cases, although interferon expression was upregulated in both severe and mild cases. Furthermore, coexpression analysis of microarray data, which reveals the dynamics of host responses during the infection, demonstrated that the limited expression of these genes early in infection led to a failure to suppress virus replication and to the hyperinduction of genes related to immunity, inflammation, coagulation, and homeostasis in the late phase of infection, resulting in a more severe disease. Our data suggest that the attenuated interferon-induced activation of innate immunity, apoptosis, and antigen presentation in the early phase of H5N1 virus infection leads to subsequent severe disease outcome.
IMPORTANCE Highly pathogenic avian H5N1 influenza viruses sometimes transmit to humans and cause severe pneumonia with ca. 60% lethality. The continued circulation of these viruses poses a pandemic threat; however, their pathogenesis in mammals is not fully understood. We, therefore, investigated the pathogenicity of six H5N1 viruses and compared the host responses of cynomolgus macaques to the virus infection. We identified differences in the viral replicative ability of and in disease severity caused by these H5N1 viruses. A comparison of global host responses between severe and mild disease cases identified the limited upregulation of interferon-stimulated genes early in infection in severe cases. The dynamics of the host responses indicated that the limited response early in infection failed to suppress virus replication and led to hyperinduction of pathological condition-related genes late in infection. These findings provide insight into the pathogenesis of H5N1 viruses in mammals.
Influenza is a common infectious disease caused by influenza viruses. Annual epidemics cause severe illnesses, deaths, and economic loss around the world. To better defend against influenza viral infection, it is essential to understand its mechanisms and associated host responses. Many studies have been conducted to elucidate these mechanisms, however, the overall picture remains incompletely understood. A systematic understanding of influenza viral infection in host cells is needed to facilitate the identification of influential host response mechanisms and potential drug targets.
We constructed a comprehensive map of the influenza A virus (‘IAV’) life cycle (‘FluMap’) by undertaking a literature-based, manual curation approach. Based on information obtained from publicly available pathway databases, updated with literature-based information and input from expert virologists and immunologists, FluMap is currently composed of 960 factors (i.e., proteins, mRNAs etc.) and 456 reactions, and is annotated with ~500 papers and curation comments. In addition to detailing the type of molecular interactions, isolate/strain specific data are also available. The FluMap was built with the pathway editor CellDesigner in standard SBML (Systems Biology Markup Language) format and visualized as an SBGN (Systems Biology Graphical Notation) diagram. It is also available as a web service (online map) based on the iPathways+ system to enable community discussion by influenza researchers. We also demonstrate computational network analyses to identify targets using the FluMap.
The FluMap is a comprehensive pathway map that can serve as a graphically presented knowledge-base and as a platform to analyze functional interactions between IAV and host factors. Publicly available webtools will allow continuous updating to ensure the most reliable representation of the host-virus interaction network. The FluMap is available at http://www.influenza-x.org/flumap/.
Drug targets; FluMap; Host factors; Influenza virus; Pathways
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a major neurodegenerative chronic disease, most likely caused by a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Information on various aspects of PD pathogenesis is rapidly increasing and needs to be efficiently organized, so that the resulting data is available for exploration and analysis. Here we introduce a computationally tractable, comprehensive molecular interaction map of PD. This map integrates pathways implicated in PD pathogenesis such as synaptic and mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired protein degradation, alpha-synuclein pathobiology and neuroinflammation. We also present bioinformatics tools for the analysis, enrichment and annotation of the map, allowing the research community to open new avenues in PD research. The PD map is accessible at http://minerva.uni.lu/pd_map.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12035-013-8489-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Parkinson’s disease; Molecular neuropathology; Knowledge repository; Bioinformatics
Interactions of proteins regulate signaling, catalysis, gene expression and many other cellular functions. Therefore, characterizing the entire human interactome is a key effort in current proteomics research. This challenge is complicated by the dynamic nature of protein-protein interactions (PPIs), which are conditional on the cellular context: both interacting proteins must be expressed in the same cell and localized in the same organelle to meet. Additionally, interactions underlie a delicate control of signaling pathways, e.g. by post-translational modifications of the protein partners - hence, many diseases are caused by the perturbation of these mechanisms. Despite the high degree of cell-state specificity of PPIs, many interactions are measured under artificial conditions (e.g. yeast cells are transfected with human genes in yeast two-hybrid assays) or even if detected in a physiological context, this information is missing from the common PPI databases. To overcome these problems, we developed a method that assigns context information to PPIs inferred from various attributes of the interacting proteins: gene expression, functional and disease annotations, and inferred pathways. We demonstrate that context consistency correlates with the experimental reliability of PPIs, which allows us to generate high-confidence tissue- and function-specific subnetworks. We illustrate how these context-filtered networks are enriched in bona fide pathways and disease proteins to prove the ability of context-filters to highlight meaningful interactions with respect to various biological questions. We use this approach to study the lung-specific pathways used by the influenza virus, pointing to IRAK1, BHLHE40 and TOLLIP as potential regulators of influenza virus pathogenicity, and to study the signalling pathways that play a role in Alzheimer's disease, identifying a pathway involving the altered phosphorylation of the Tau protein. Finally, we provide the annotated human PPI network via a web frontend that allows the construction of context-specific networks in several ways.
Protein-protein-interactions (PPIs) participate in virtually all biological processes. However, the PPI map is not static but the pairs of proteins that interact depends on the type of cell, the subcellular localization and modifications of the participating proteins, among many other factors. Therefore, it is important to understand the specific conditions under which a PPI happens. Unfortunately, experimental methods often do not provide this information or, even worse, measure PPIs under artificial conditions not found in biological systems. We developed a method to infer this missing information from properties of the interacting proteins, such as in which cell types the proteins are found, which functions they fulfill and whether they are known to play a role in disease. We show that PPIs for which we can infer conditions under which they happen have a higher experimental reliability. Also, our inference agrees well with known pathways and disease proteins. Since diseases usually affect specific cell types, we study PPI networks of influenza proteins in lung tissues and of Alzheimer's disease proteins in neural tissues. In both cases, we can highlight interesting interactions potentially playing a role in disease progression.
Motivation: BioPAX is a standard language for representing and exchanging models of biological processes at the molecular and cellular levels. It is widely used by different pathway databases and genomics data analysis software. Currently, the primary source of BioPAX data is direct exports from the curated pathway databases. It is still uncommon for wet-lab biologists to share and exchange pathway knowledge using BioPAX. Instead, pathways are usually represented as informal diagrams in the literature. In order to encourage formal representation of pathways, we describe a software package that allows users to create pathway diagrams using CellDesigner, a user-friendly graphical pathway-editing tool and save the pathway data in BioPAX Level 3 format.
Availability: The plug-in is freely available and can be downloaded at ftp://ftp.pantherdb.org/CellDesigner/plugins/BioPAX/
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
Interpreting in vivo sampled microarray data is often complicated by changes in the cell population demographics. To put gene expression into its proper biological context, it is necessary to distinguish differential gene transcription from artificial gene expression induced by changes in the cellular demographics.
CTen (cell type enrichment) is a web-based analytical tool which uses our highly expressed, cell specific (HECS) gene database to identify enriched cell types in heterogeneous microarray data. The web interface is designed for differential expression and gene clustering studies, and the enrichment results are presented as heatmaps or downloadable text files.
In this work, we use an independent, cell-specific gene expression data set to assess CTen's performance in accurately identifying the appropriate cell type and provide insight into the suggested level of enrichment to optimally minimize the number of false discoveries. We show that CTen, when applied to microarray data developed from infected lung tissue, can correctly identify the cell signatures of key lymphocytes in a highly heterogeneous environment and compare its performance to another popular bioinformatics tool. Furthermore, we discuss the strong implications cell type enrichment has in the design of effective microarray workflow strategies and show that, by combining CTen with gene expression clustering, we may be able to determine the relative changes in the number of key cell types.
CTen is available at http://www.influenza-x.org/~jshoemaker/cten/
Cell type enrichment; Microarray data; Deconvolution; Influenza; Systems immunology
Annually, influenza A viruses circulate the world causing wide-spread sickness, economic loss, and death. One way to better defend against influenza virus-induced disease may be to develop novel host-based therapies, targeted at mitigating viral pathogenesis through the management of virus-dysregulated host functions. However, mechanisms that govern aberrant host responses to influenza virus infection remain incompletely understood. We previously showed that the pandemic H1N1 virus influenza A/California/04/2009 (H1N1; CA04) has enhanced pathogenicity in the lungs of cynomolgus macaques relative to a seasonal influenza virus isolate (A/Kawasaki/UTK-4/2009 (H1N1; KUTK4)).
Here, we used microarrays to identify host gene sequences that were highly differentially expressed (DE) in CA04-infected macaque lungs, and we employed a novel strategy – combining functional and pathway enrichment analyses, transcription factor binding site enrichment analysis and protein-protein interaction data – to create a CA04 differentially regulated host response network. This network describes enhanced viral RNA sensing, immune cell signaling and cell cycle arrest in CA04-infected lungs, and highlights a novel, putative role for the MYC-associated zinc finger (MAZ) transcription factor in regulating these processes.
Our findings suggest that the enhanced pathology is the result of a prolonged immune response, despite successful virus clearance. Most interesting, we identify a mechanism which normally suppresses immune cell signaling and inflammation is ineffective in the pH1N1 virus infection; a dyregulatory event also associated with arthritis. This dysregulation offers several opportunities for developing strain-independent, immunomodulatory therapies to protect against future pandemics.
Influenza; Host response; Microarray; pH1N1; Systems biology
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia among the elderly. To clarify pathogenesis of AD, thousands of reports have been accumulating. However, knowledge of signaling pathways in the field of AD has not been compiled as a database before.
Here, we have constructed a publicly available pathway map called “AlzPathway” that comprehensively catalogs signaling pathways in the field of AD. We have collected and manually curated over 100 review articles related to AD, and have built an AD pathway map using CellDesigner. AlzPathway is currently composed of 1347 molecules and 1070 reactions in neuron, brain blood barrier, presynaptic, postsynaptic, astrocyte, and microglial cells and their cellular localizations. AlzPathway is available as both the SBML (Systems Biology Markup Language) map for CellDesigner and the high resolution image map. AlzPathway is also available as a web service (online map) based on Payao system, a community-based, collaborative web service platform for pathway model curation, enabling continuous updates by AD researchers.
AlzPathway is the first comprehensive map of intra, inter and extra cellular AD signaling pathways which can enable mechanistic deciphering of AD pathogenesis. The AlzPathway map is accessible at http://alzpathway.org/.
Motivation: LibSBGN is a software library for reading, writing and manipulating Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) maps stored using the recently developed SBGN-ML file format. The library (available in C++ and Java) makes it easy for developers to add SBGN support to their tools, whereas the file format facilitates the exchange of maps between compatible software applications. The library also supports validation of maps, which simplifies the task of ensuring compliance with the detailed SBGN specifications. With this effort we hope to increase the adoption of SBGN in bioinformatics tools, ultimately enabling more researchers to visualize biological knowledge in a precise and unambiguous manner.
Availability and implementation: Milestone 2 was released in December 2011. Source code, example files and binaries are freely available under the terms of either the LGPL v2.1+ or Apache v2.0 open source licenses from http://libsbgn.sourceforge.net.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a central regulator of cell growth and proliferation. mTOR signaling is frequently dysregulated in oncogenic cells, and thus an attractive target for anticancer therapy. Using CellDesigner, a modeling support software for graphical notation, we present herein a comprehensive map of the mTOR signaling network, which includes 964 species connected by 777 reactions. The map complies with both the systems biology markup language (SBML) and graphical notation (SBGN) for computational analysis and graphical representation, respectively. As captured in the mTOR map, we review and discuss our current understanding of the mTOR signaling network and highlight the impact of mTOR feedback and crosstalk regulations on drug-based cancer therapy. This map is available on the Payao platform, a Web 2.0 based community-wide interactive process for creating more accurate and information-rich databases. Thus, this comprehensive map of the mTOR network will serve as a tool to facilitate systems-level study of up-to-date mTOR network components and signaling events toward the discovery of novel regulatory processes and therapeutic strategies for cancer.
cancer; CellDesigner; graphical notation; mTOR; regulatory network
With the accumulation of data on complex molecular machineries coordinating cell-cycle dynamics, coupled with its central function in disease patho-physiologies, it is becoming increasingly important to collate the disparate knowledge sources into a comprehensive molecular network amenable to systems-level analyses. In this work, we present a comprehensive map of the budding yeast cell-cycle, curating reactions from ∼600 original papers. Toward leveraging the map as a framework to explore the underlying network architecture, we abstract the molecular components into three planes—signaling, cell-cycle core and structural planes. The planar view together with topological analyses facilitates network-centric identification of functions and control mechanisms. Further, we perform a comparative motif analysis to identify around 194 motifs including feed-forward, mutual inhibitory and feedback mechanisms contributing to cell-cycle robustness. We envisage the open access, comprehensive cell-cycle map to open roads toward community-based deeper understanding of cell-cycle dynamics.
comprehensive map; large-scale network; yeast cell cycle
The discovery by design paradigm driving research in synthetic biology entails the engineering of de novo biological constructs with well-characterized input–output behaviours and interfaces. The construction of biological circuits requires iterative phases of design, simulation and assembly, leading to the fabrication of a biological device. In order to represent engineered models in a consistent visual format and further simulating them in silico, standardization of representation and model formalism is imperative. In this article, we review different efforts for standardization, particularly standards for graphical visualization and simulation/annotation schemata adopted in systems biology. We identify the importance of integrating the different standardization efforts and provide insights into potential avenues for developing a common framework for model visualization, simulation and sharing across various tools. We envision that such a synergistic approach would lead to the development of global, standardized schemata in biology, empowering deeper understanding of molecular mechanisms as well as engineering of novel biological systems.
systems biology; standardization; biological engineering; graphical notation
Motivation: Metabolic and signaling pathways are an increasingly important part of organizing knowledge in systems biology. They serve to integrate collective interpretations of facts scattered throughout literature. Biologists construct a pathway by reading a large number of articles and interpreting them as a consistent network, but most of the models constructed currently lack direct links to those articles. Biologists who want to check the original articles have to spend substantial amounts of time to collect relevant articles and identify the sections relevant to the pathway. Furthermore, with the scientific literature expanding by several thousand papers per week, keeping a model relevant requires a continuous curation effort. In this article, we present a system designed to integrate a pathway visualizer, text mining systems and annotation tools into a seamless environment. This will enable biologists to freely move between parts of a pathway and relevant sections of articles, as well as identify relevant papers from large text bases. The system, PathText, is developed by Systems Biology Institute, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, National Centre for Text Mining (University of Manchester) and the University of Tokyo, and is being used by groups of biologists from these locations.
Summary: Payao is a community-based, collaborative web service platform for gene-regulatory and biochemical pathway model curation. The system combines Web 2.0 technologies and online model visualization functions to enable a collaborative community to annotate and curate biological models. Payao reads the models in Systems Biology Markup Language format, displays them with CellDesigner, a process diagram editor, which complies with the Systems Biology Graphical Notation, and provides an interface for model enrichment (adding tags and comments to the models) for the access-controlled community members.
Availability and implementation: Freely available for model curation service at http://www.payaologue.org. Web site implemented in Seaser Framework 2.0 with S2Flex2, MySQL 5.0 and Tomcat 5.5, with all major browsers supported.
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway is one of the most important pathways that regulate growth, survival, proliferation, and differentiation in mammalian cells. Reflecting this importance, it is one of the best-investigated signaling systems, both experimentally and computationally, and several computational models have been developed for dynamic analysis. A map of molecular interactions of the EGFR signaling system is a valuable resource for research in this area. In this paper, we present a comprehensive pathway map of EGFR signaling and other related pathways. The map reveals that the overall architecture of the pathway is a bow-tie (or hourglass) structure with several feedback loops. The map is created using CellDesigner software that enables us to graphically represent interactions using a well-defined and consistent graphical notation, and to store it in Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML).
bow-tie structure; comprehensive pathway map; epidermal growth factor receptor; graphical notation; Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML)
Understanding complex biological systems requires the extensive support of computational tools. This is particularly true for systems pharmacology, which aims to understand the action of drugs and their interactions in a systems context. Computational models play an important role as they can be viewed as an explicit representation of biological hypotheses to be tested. A series of software and data resources are used for model development, verification and exploration of the possible behaviors of biological systems using the model that may not be possible or not cost effective by experiments. Software platforms play a dominant role in creativity and productivity support and have transformed many industries, techniques that can be applied to biology as well. Establishing an integrated software platform will be the next important step in the field. © 2013 The Authors. Biopharmaceutics & Drug Disposition published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
systems pharmacology; systems biology; integrated software platform