Biomolecular Self-Defense and Futility of High-Specificity Therapeutic Targeting

National Cancer Institute, EPN 3108, 6130 Executive Blvd., Rockville, Maryland 20892, USA.
Gene regulation and systems biology 11/2011; 5:89-104. DOI: 10.4137/GRSB.S8542
Source: PubMed


Robustness has been long recognized to be a distinctive property of living entities. While a reasonably wide consensus has been achieved regarding the conceptual meaning of robustness, the biomolecular mechanisms underlying this systemic property are still open to many unresolved questions. The goal of this paper is to provide an overview of existing approaches to characterization of robustness in mathematically sound terms. The concept of robustness is discussed in various contexts including network vulnerability, nonlinear dynamic stability, and self-organization. The second goal is to discuss the implications of biological robustness for individual-target therapeutics and possible strategies for outsmarting drug resistance arising from it. Special attention is paid to the concept of swarm intelligence, a well studied mechanism of self-organization in natural, societal and artificial systems. It is hypothesized that swarm intelligence is the key to understanding the emergent property of chemoresistance.

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    • "But there is more. The viewpoint being advanced in the previous paper by this author63 is that a community of cells is not simply a collection of units dwelling within certain architectural structures. This is indeed a living community possessing the emergent property of swarm intelligence. "
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    ABSTRACT: Two drastically different approaches to understanding the forces driving carcinogenesis have crystallized through years of research. These are the somatic mutation theory (SMT) and the tissue organization field theory (TOFT). The essence of SMT is that cancer is derived from a single somatic cell that has successively accumulated multiple DNA mutations, and that those mutations occur on genes which control cell proliferation and cell cycle. Thus, according to SMT, neoplastic lesions are the results of DNA-level events. Conversely, according to TOFT, carcinogenesis is primarily a problem of tissue organization: carcinogenic agents destroy the normal tissue architecture thus disrupting cell-to-cell signaling and compromising genomic integrity. Hence, in TOFT the DNA mutations are the effect, and not the cause, of the tissue-level events. Cardinal importance of successful resolution of the TOFT versus SMT controversy dwells in the fact that, according to SMT, cancer is a unidirectional and mostly irreversible disease; whereas, according to TOFT, it is curable and reversible. In this paper, our goal is to outline a plausible scenario in which TOFT and SMT can be reconciled using the framework and concepts of the self-organized criticality (SOC), the principle proven to be extremely fruitful in a wide range of disciplines pertaining to natural phenomena, to biological communities, to large-scale social developments, to technological networks, and to many other subjects of research.
    Cancer informatics 12/2013; 12:221-229. DOI:10.4137/CIN.S13013
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    • "QS is found to be a promising target in oncology, and a number of peptide drugs are currently under investigation for their preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic properties. As discussed in much detail in the work by this author,15 QS and other aspects of swarm intelligence contribute to the phenomena of biological robustness and acquired chemoresistance. "
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    ABSTRACT: Complex biological systems manifest a large variety of emergent phenomena among which prominent roles belong to self-organization and swarm intelligence. Generally, each level in a biological hierarchy possesses its own systemic properties and requires its own way of observation, conceptualization, and modeling. In this work, an attempt is made to outline general guiding principles in exploration of a wide range of seemingly dissimilar phenomena observed in large communities of individuals devoid of any personal intelligence and interacting with each other through simple stimulus-response rules. Mathematically, these guiding principles are well captured by the Global Consensus Theorem (GCT) equally applicable to neural networks and to Lotka-Volterra population dynamics. Universality of the mechanistic principles outlined by GCT allows for a unified approach to such diverse systems as biological networks, communities of social insects, robotic communities, microbial communities, communities of somatic cells, social networks and many other systems. Another cluster of universal laws governing the self-organization in large communities of locally interacting individuals is built around the principle of self-organized criticality (SOC). The GCT and SOC, separately or in combination, provide a conceptual basis for understanding the phenomena of self-organization occurring in large communities without involvement of a supervisory authority, without system-wide informational infrastructure, and without mapping of general plan of action onto cognitive/behavioral faculties of its individual members. Cancer onset and proliferation serves as an important example of application of these conceptual approaches. In this paper, the point of view is put forward that apparently irreconcilable contradictions between two opposing theories of carcinogenesis, that is, the Somatic Mutation Theory and the Tissue Organization Field Theory, may be resolved using the systemic approaches provided by GST and SOC.
    Gene regulation and systems biology 02/2013; 7(1):23-39. DOI:10.4137/GRSB.S10885
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    • "While there are a number of studies on biological robustness, the role of redundancy is still a theoretical debate in the phenomenon of biological robustness [55]. Our study provided a unique viewpoint of genetic robustness beyond duplication-based compensation and suggested the candidates of nonhomologous functional compensatory genes based on three features: (1) the existence of synthetic lethal interaction; (2) the ratio of shared common interacting partners; (3) the degree of coregulation. "
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic robustness refers to a compensatory mechanism for buffering deleterious mutations or environmental variations. Gene duplication has been shown to provide such functional backups. However, the overall contribution of duplication-based buffering for genetic robustness is rather small. In this study, we investigated whether transcriptional compensation also exists among genes that share similar functions without sequence homology. A set of nonhomologous synthetic-lethal gene pairs was assessed by using a coexpression network, protein-protein interactions, and other types of genetic interactions in yeast. Our results are notably different from those of previous studies on buffering paralogs. The low expression similarity and the conditional coexpression alone do not play roles in identifying the functionally compensatory genes. Additional properties such as synthetic-lethal interaction, the ratio of shared common interacting partners, and the degree of coregulation were, at least in part, necessary to extract functional compensatory genes. Our network-based approach is applicable to select several well-documented cases of compensatory gene pairs and a set of new pairs. The results suggest that transcriptional reprogramming plays a limited role in functional compensation among nonhomologous genes. Our study aids in understanding the mechanism and features of functional compensation more in detail.
    Comparative and Functional Genomics 08/2012; 2012:653174. DOI:10.1155/2012/653174 · 2.03 Impact Factor
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