Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-5 (5)

Clipboard (0)
more »
Year of Publication
Document Types
1.  Reshaping the epigenetic landscape during early flower development: induction of attractor transitions by relative differences in gene decay rates 
BMC Systems Biology  2015;9:20.
Gene regulatory network (GRN) dynamical models are standard systems biology tools for the mechanistic understanding of developmental processes and are enabling the formalization of the epigenetic landscape (EL) model.
In this work we propose a modeling framework which integrates standard mathematical analyses to extend the simple GRN Boolean model in order to address questions regarding the impact of gene specific perturbations in cell-fate decisions during development.
We systematically tested the propensity of individual genes to produce qualitative changes to the EL induced by modification of gene characteristic decay rates reflecting the temporal dynamics of differentiation stimuli. By applying this approach to the flower specification GRN (FOS-GRN) we uncovered differences in the functional (dynamical) role of their genes. The observed dynamical behavior correlates with biological observables. We found a relationship between the propensity of undergoing attractor transitions between attraction basins in the EL and the direction of differentiation during early flower development - being less likely to induce up-stream attractor transitions as the course of development progresses. Our model also uncovered a potential mechanism at play during the transition from EL basins defining inflorescence meristem to those associated to flower organs meristem. Additionally, our analysis provided a mechanistic interpretation of the homeotic property of the ABC genes, being more likely to produce both an induced inter-attractor transition and to specify a novel attractor. Finally, we found that there is a close relationship between a gene’s topological features and its propensity to produce attractor transitions.
The study of how the state-space associated with a dynamical model of a GRN can be restructured by modulation of genes’ characteristic expression times is an important aid for understanding underlying mechanisms occurring during development. Our contribution offers a simple framework to approach such problem, as exemplified here by the case of flower development. Different GRN models and the effect of diverse inductive signals can be explored within the same framework. We speculate that the dynamical role of specific genes within a GRN, as uncovered here, might give information about which genes are more likely to link a module to other regulatory circuits and signaling transduction pathways.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12918-015-0166-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4438470  PMID: 25967891
Gene regulatory network; Epigenetic landscape; Attractor landscape; Differentiation; Flower development; Attractor transitions
2.  Tetramer formation in Arabidopsis MADS domain proteins: analysis of a protein-protein interaction network 
MADS domain proteins are transcription factors that coordinate several important developmental processes in plants. These proteins interact with other MADS domain proteins to form dimers, and it has been proposed that they are able to associate as tetrameric complexes that regulate transcription of target genes. Whether the formation of functional tetramers is a widespread property of plant MADS domain proteins, or it is specific to few of these transcriptional regulators remains unclear.
We analyzed the structure of the network of physical interactions among MADS domain proteins in Arabidopsis thaliana. We determined the abundance of subgraphs that represent the connection pattern expected for a MADS domain protein heterotetramer. These subgraphs were significantly more abundant in the MADS domain protein interaction network than in randomized analogous networks. Importantly, these subgraphs are not significantly frequent in a protein interaction network of TCP plant transcription factors, when compared to expectation by chance. In addition, we found that MADS domain proteins in tetramer-like subgraphs are more likely to be expressed jointly than proteins in other subgraphs. This effect is mainly due to proteins in the monophyletic MIKC clade, as there is no association between tetramer-like subgraphs and co-expression for proteins outside this clade.
Our results support that the tendency to form functional tetramers is widespread in the MADS domain protein-protein interaction network. Our observations also suggest that this trend is prevalent, or perhaps exclusive, for proteins in the MIKC clade. Because it is possible to retrodict several experimental results from our analyses, our work can be an important aid to make new predictions and facilitates experimental research on plant MADS domain proteins.
PMCID: PMC3913338  PMID: 24468197
MADS domain proteins; Protein-protein interaction network; Transcription factors; Tetramers; Subgraph abundance; Arabidopsis thaliana
3.  Single-cell and coupled GRN models of cell patterning in the Arabidopsis thaliana root stem cell niche 
BMC Systems Biology  2010;4:134.
Recent experimental work has uncovered some of the genetic components required to maintain the Arabidopsis thaliana root stem cell niche (SCN) and its structure. Two main pathways are involved. One pathway depends on the genes SHORTROOT and SCARECROW and the other depends on the PLETHORA genes, which have been proposed to constitute the auxin readouts. Recent evidence suggests that a regulatory circuit, composed of WOX5 and CLE40, also contributes to the SCN maintenance. Yet, we still do not understand how the niche is dynamically maintained and patterned or if the uncovered molecular components are sufficient to recover the observed gene expression configurations that characterize the cell types within the root SCN. Mathematical and computational tools have proven useful in understanding the dynamics of cell differentiation. Hence, to further explore root SCN patterning, we integrated available experimental data into dynamic Gene Regulatory Network (GRN) models and addressed if these are sufficient to attain observed gene expression configurations in the root SCN in a robust and autonomous manner.
We found that an SCN GRN model based only on experimental data did not reproduce the configurations observed within the root SCN. We developed several alternative GRN models that recover these expected stable gene configurations. Such models incorporate a few additional components and interactions in addition to those that have been uncovered. The recovered configurations are stable to perturbations, and the models are able to recover the observed gene expression profiles of almost all the mutants described so far. However, the robustness of the postulated GRNs is not as high as that of other previously studied networks.
These models are the first published approximations for a dynamic mechanism of the A. thaliana root SCN cellular pattering. Our model is useful to formally show that the data now available are not sufficient to fully reproduce root SCN organization and genetic profiles. We then highlight some experimental holes that remain to be studied and postulate some novel gene interactions. Finally, we suggest the existence of a generic dynamical motif that can be involved in both plant and animal SCN maintenance.
PMCID: PMC2972269  PMID: 20920363
4.  Information flow during gene activation by signaling molecules: ethylene transduction in Arabidopsis cells as a study system 
BMC Systems Biology  2009;3:48.
We study root cells from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana and the communication channel conformed by the ethylene signal transduction pathway. A basic equation taken from our previous work relates the probability of expression of the gene ERF1 to the concentration of ethylene.
The above equation is used to compute the Shannon entropy (H) or degree of uncertainty that the genetic machinery has during the decoding of the message encoded by the ethylene specific receptors embedded in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane and transmitted into the nucleus by the ethylene signaling pathway. We show that the amount of information associated with the expression of the master gene ERF1 (Ethylene Response Factor 1) can be computed. Then we examine the system response to sinusoidal input signals with varying frequencies to determine if the cell can distinguish between different regimes of information flow from the environment. Our results demonstrate that the amount of information managed by the root cell can be correlated with the frequency of the input signal.
The ethylene signaling pathway cuts off very low and very high frequencies, allowing a window of frequency response in which the nucleus reads the incoming message as a sinusoidal input. Out of this window the nucleus reads the input message as an approximately non-varying one. From this frequency response analysis we estimate: a) the gain of the system during the synthesis of the protein ERF1 (~-5.6 dB); b) the rate of information transfer (0.003 bits) during the transport of each new ERF1 molecule into the nucleus and c) the time of synthesis of each new ERF1 molecule (~21.3 s). Finally, we demonstrate that in the case of the system of a single master gene (ERF1) and a single slave gene (HLS1), the total Shannon entropy is completely determined by the uncertainty associated with the expression of the master gene. A second proposition shows that the Shannon entropy associated with the expression of the HLS1 gene determines the information content of the system that is related to the interaction of the antagonistic genes ARF1, 2 and HLS1.
PMCID: PMC2688479  PMID: 19416539
5.  Interlinked nonlinear subnetworks underlie the formation of robust cellular patterns in Arabidopsis epidermis: a dynamic spatial model 
BMC Systems Biology  2008;2:98.
Dynamical models are instrumental for exploring the way information required to generate robust developmental patterns arises from complex interactions among genetic and non-genetic factors. We address this fundamental issue of developmental biology studying the leaf and root epidermis of Arabidopsis. We propose an experimentally-grounded model of gene regulatory networks (GRNs) that are coupled by protein diffusion and comprise a meta-GRN implemented on cellularised domains.
Steady states of the meta-GRN model correspond to gene expression profiles typical of hair and non-hair epidermal cells. The simulations also render spatial patterns that match the cellular arrangements observed in root and leaf epidermis. As in actual plants, such patterns are robust in the face of diverse perturbations. We validated the model by checking that it also reproduced the patterns of reported mutants. The meta-GRN model shows that interlinked sub-networks contribute redundantly to the formation of robust hair patterns and permits to advance novel and testable predictions regarding the effect of cell shape, signalling pathways and additional gene interactions affecting spatial cell-patterning.
The spatial meta-GRN model integrates available experimental data and contributes to further understanding of the Arabidopsis epidermal system. It also provides a systems biology framework to explore the interplay among sub-networks of a GRN, cell-to-cell communication, cell shape and domain traits, which could help understanding of general aspects of patterning processes. For instance, our model suggests that the information needed for cell fate determination emerges from dynamic processes that depend upon molecular components inside and outside differentiating cells, suggesting that the classical distinction of lineage versus positional cell differentiation may be instrumental but rather artificial. It also suggests that interlinkage of nonlinear and redundant sub-networks in larger networks is important for pattern robustness. Pursuing dynamic analyses of larger (genomic) coupled networks is still not possible. A repertoire of well-characterised regulatory modules, like the one presented here, will, however, help to uncover general principles of the patterning-associated networks, as well as the peculiarities that originate diversity.
PMCID: PMC2600786  PMID: 19014692

Results 1-5 (5)