[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mathematical description of biological reaction networks by differential equations leads to large models whose parameters are calibrated in order to optimally explain experimental data. Often only parts of the model can be observed directly. Given a model that sufficiently describes the measured data, it is important to infer how well model parameters are determined by the amount and quality of experimental data. This knowledge is essential for further investigation of model predictions. For this reason a major topic in modeling is identifiability analysis.We suggest an approach that exploits the profile likelihood. It enables to detect structural non-identifiabilities, which manifest in functionally related model parameters. Furthermore, practical non-identifiabilities are detected, that might arise due to limited amount and quality of experimental data. Last but not least confidence intervals can be derived. The results are easy to interpret and can be used for experimental planning and for model reduction.An implementation is freely available for MATLAB and the PottersWheel modeling toolbox at http://web.me.com/andreas.raue/profile/software.html.Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Due to the high complexity of biological data it is difficult to disentangle cellular processes relying only on intuitive interpretation of measurements. A Systems Biology approach that combines quantitative experimental data with dynamic mathematical modeling promises to yield deeper insights into these processes. Nevertheless, with growing complexity and increasing amount of quantitative experimental data, building realistic and reliable mathematical models can become a challenging task: the quality of experimental data has to be assessed objectively, unknown model parameters need to be estimated from the experimental data, and numerical calculations need to be precise and efficient. Here, we discuss, compare and characterize the performance of computational methods throughout the process of quantitative dynamic modeling using two previously established examples, for which quantitative, dose- and time-resolved experimental data are available. In particular, we present an approach that allows to determine the quality of experimental data in an efficient, objective and automated manner. Using this approach data generated by different measurement techniques and even in single replicates can be reliably used for mathematical modeling. For the estimation of unknown model parameters, the performance of different optimization algorithms was compared systematically. Our results show that deterministic derivative-based optimization employing the sensitivity equations in combination with a multi-start strategy based on latin hypercube sampling outperforms the other methods by orders of magnitude in accuracy and speed. Finally, we investigated transformations that yield a more efficient parameterization of the model and therefore lead to a further enhancement in optimization performance. We provide a freely available open source software package that implements the algorithms and examples compared here.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e74335. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ERK is a member of the MAPK pathway with essential functions in cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. Complete ERK activation by the kinase MEK requires dual phosphorylation at T and Y within the activation motif TEY. We show that exposure of primary mouse hepatocytes to hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) results in phosphorylation at the activation motif, but not of other residues nearby. To determine the relative abundances of unphosphorylated ERK and the three ERK phospho-forms pT, pY and pTpY, we employed an extended one-source peptide/phosphopeptide standard method in combination with nanoUPLC-MS. This method enabled to determine the abundances of phospho-forms with a relative variability of ≤ 5 % (SD). We observed a switch-like preference of ERK phospho-form abundances towards the active, doubly phosphorylated and the inactive, unphosphorylated form. Interestingly, ERK phospho-form profiles were similar upon growth factor and cytokine stimulation. A screening of several murine and human cell systems revealed that the balance between TY- and pTpY-ERK is conserved while the abundances of pT- and pY-ERK are more variable within cell types. We show that the phospho-form profiles do not change by blocking MEK activity suggesting that cellular phosphatases determine the ERK phospho-form distribution. This study provides novel quantitative insights into multi-site phosphorylation.
Journal of Proteome Research 12/2012; · 5.06 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: How do cells interpret information from their environment and translate it into specific cell fate decisions? We propose that cell fate is already encoded in early signaling events and thus can be predicted from defined signal properties. Specifically, we hypothesize that the time integral of activated key signaling molecules can be correlated to cellular behavior such as proliferation or differentiation. The identification of these decisive key signal mediators and their connection to cell fate is facilitated by mathematical modeling. A possible mechanistic linkage between signaling dynamics and cellular function is the directed control of gene regulatory networks by defined signals. Targeted experiments in combination with mathematical modeling can increase our understanding of how cells process information and realize distinct cell fates.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mathematical models of dynamical systems facilitate the computation of characteristic properties that are not accessible experimentally. In cell biology, two main properties of interest are (1) the time-period a protein is accessible to other molecules in a certain state - its half-life - and (2) the time it spends when passing through a subsystem - its transit-time. We discuss two approaches to quantify the half-life, present the novel method of in silico labeling, and introduce the label half-life and label transit-time. The developed method has been motivated by laboratory tracer experiments. To investigate the kinetic properties and behavior of a substance of interest, we computationally label this species in order to track it throughout its life cycle. The corresponding mathematical model is extended by an additional set of reactions for the labeled species, avoiding any double-counting within closed circuits, correcting for the influences of upstream fluxes, and taking into account combinatorial multiplicity for complexes or reactions with several reactants or products. A profile likelihood approach is used to estimate confidence intervals on the label half-life and transit-time.
Application to the JAK-STAT signaling pathway in Epo-stimulated BaF3-EpoR cells enabled the calculation of the time-dependent label half-life and transit-time of STAT species. The results were robust against parameter uncertainties.
Our approach renders possible the estimation of species and label half-lives and transit-times. It is applicable to large non-linear systems and an implementation is provided within the PottersWheel modeling framework (http://www.potterswheel.de).
BMC Systems Biology 02/2012; 6:13. · 2.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mathematical models addressing important aspects of hematological malignancies have recently facilitated an improved understanding of the involved complex biological processes and the prediction of potential targets for therapeutic approaches. These models investigate a wide spectrum of topics ranging from metabolic processes, gene regulatory networks and signal transduction up to the behavior of cell populations. However, despite this range of biological processes, the modeling strategies share many common features. Biological knowledge is translated into abstract descriptions representing complex networks and the parameters of these mathematical models are derived from literature data or estimated from experimental measurements. The established mathematical models are used to interrogate key properties of the investigated system by model simulations. These predictions are validated based on previously published or novel experiments. Additionally, new drug targets are predicted or novel insights into biological processes are provided. Here, we summarize the strategies employed to establish four mathematical models that address different processes in leukemia and lymphoma cells. Furthermore, we show how these systems biology approaches could contribute to elucidate the pathobiology of hematological malignancies.
Frontiers in bioscience (Elite edition) 01/2012; 4:1648-53.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Complex intracellular signalling networks integrate extracellular signals and convert them into cellular responses. In cancer cells, the tightly regulated and fine-tuned dynamics of information processing in signalling networks is altered, leading to uncontrolled cell proliferation, survival and migration. Systems biology combines mathematical modelling with comprehensive, quantitative, time-resolved data and is most advanced in addressing dynamic properties of intracellular signalling networks. Here, we introduce different modelling approaches and their application to medical systems biology, focusing on the identifiability of parameters in ordinary differential equation models and their importance in network modelling to predict cellular decisions. Two related examples are given, which include processing of ligand-encoded information and dual feedback regulation in erythropoietin (Epo) receptor signalling. Finally, we review the current understanding of how systems biology could foster the development of new treatment strategies in the context of lung cancer and anaemia.
Journal of Internal Medicine 12/2011; 271(2):155-65. · 6.46 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular signal transduction is governed by multiple feedback mechanisms to elicit robust cellular decisions. The specific contributions of individual feedback regulators, however, remain unclear. Based on extensive time-resolved data sets in primary erythroid progenitor cells, we established a dynamic pathway model to dissect the roles of the two transcriptional negative feedback regulators of the suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS) family, CIS and SOCS3, in JAK2/STAT5 signaling. Facilitated by the model, we calculated the STAT5 response for experimentally unobservable Epo concentrations and provide a quantitative link between cell survival and the integrated response of STAT5 in the nucleus. Model predictions show that the two feedbacks CIS and SOCS3 are most effective at different ligand concentration ranges due to their distinct inhibitory mechanisms. This divided function of dual feedback regulation enables control of STAT5 responses for Epo concentrations that can vary 1000-fold in vivo. Our modeling approach reveals dose-dependent feedback control as key property to regulate STAT5-mediated survival decisions over a broad range of ligand concentrations.
Molecular Systems Biology 07/2011; 7:516. · 11.34 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma (PMBL) and classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) share a frequent constitutive activation of JAK (Janus kinase)/STAT signaling pathway. Because of complex, nonlinear relations within the pathway, key dynamic properties remained to be identified to predict possible strategies for intervention. We report the development of dynamic pathway models based on quantitative data collected on signaling components of JAK/STAT pathway in two lymphoma-derived cell lines, MedB-1 and L1236, representative of PMBL and cHL, respectively. We show that the amounts of STAT5 and STAT6 are higher whereas those of SHP1 are lower in the two lymphoma cell lines than in normal B cells. Distinctively, L1236 cells harbor more JAK2 and less SHP1 molecules per cell than MedB-1 or control cells. In both lymphoma cell lines, we observe interleukin-13 (IL13)-induced activation of IL4 receptor α, JAK2, and STAT5, but not of STAT6. Genome-wide, 11 early and 16 sustained genes are upregulated by IL13 in both lymphoma cell lines. Specifically, the known STAT-inducible negative regulators CISH and SOCS3 are upregulated within 2 hours in MedB-1 but not in L1236 cells. On the basis of this detailed quantitative information, we established two mathematical models, MedB-1 and L1236 model, able to describe the respective experimental data. Most of the model parameters are identifiable and therefore the models are predictive. Sensitivity analysis of the model identifies six possible therapeutic targets able to reduce gene expression levels in L1236 cells and three in MedB-1. We experimentally confirm reduction in target gene expression in response to inhibition of STAT5 phosphorylation, thereby validating one of the predicted targets.
Cancer Research 02/2011; 71(3):693-704. · 8.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell surface receptors convert extracellular cues into receptor activation, thereby triggering intracellular signaling networks and controlling cellular decisions. A major unresolved issue is the identification of receptor properties that critically determine processing of ligand-encoded information. We show by mathematical modeling of quantitative data and experimental validation that rapid ligand depletion and replenishment of the cell surface receptor are characteristic features of the erythropoietin (Epo) receptor (EpoR). The amount of Epo-EpoR complexes and EpoR activation integrated over time corresponds linearly to ligand input; this process is carried out over a broad range of ligand concentrations. This relation depends solely on EpoR turnover independent of ligand binding, which suggests an essential role of large intracellular receptor pools. These receptor properties enable the system to cope with basal and acute demand in the hematopoietic system.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cell fate decisions are regulated by the coordinated activation of signalling pathways such as the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade, but contributions of individual kinase isoforms are mostly unknown. By combining quantitative data from erythropoietin-induced pathway activation in primary erythroid progenitor (colony-forming unit erythroid stage, CFU-E) cells with mathematical modelling, we predicted and experimentally confirmed a distributive ERK phosphorylation mechanism in CFU-E cells. Model analysis showed bow-tie-shaped signal processing and inherently transient signalling for cytokine-induced ERK signalling. Sensitivity analysis predicted that, through a feedback-mediated process, increasing one ERK isoform reduces activation of the other isoform, which was verified by protein over-expression. We calculated ERK activation for biochemically not addressable but physiologically relevant ligand concentrations showing that double-phosphorylated ERK1 attenuates proliferation beyond a certain activation level, whereas activated ERK2 enhances proliferation with saturation kinetics. Thus, we provide a quantitative link between earlier unobservable signalling dynamics and cell fate decisions.
Molecular Systems Biology 01/2009; 5:334. · 11.34 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systems biology aims at understanding the behavior of biological networks by mathematical modeling based on experimental data. However, frequently experimental data is derived from poorly defined cellular systems, the procedures of data generation are insufficiently documented and data processing is arbitrary. For the advancement of systems biology, standardization at multiple levels is essential. Several systems biology consortia have started by focusing on standardization of cellular systems and experimental procedures. Minimum information standards for the description of data sets and common languages for the description of biological pathways as well as for mathematical modeling are being developed. Standardization is required to facilitate data exchange between different research groups and finally the assembly of large integrated models providing novel biological insights.
Current Opinion in Biotechnology 08/2008; 19(4):354-9. · 7.86 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Systems biology is an approach to the analysis and prediction of the dynamic behaviour of biological networks through mathematical modelling based on experimental data. The current lack of reliable quantitative data, especially in the field of signal transduction, means that new methodologies in data acquisition and processing are needed. Here, we present methods to advance the established techniques of immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting to more accurate and quantitative procedures. We propose randomisation of sample loading to disrupt lane correlations and the use of normalisers and calibrators for data correction. To predict the impact of each method on improving the data quality we used simulations. These studies showed that randomisation reduces the standard deviation of a smoothed signal by 55% +/- 10%, independently from most experimental settings. Normalisation with appropriate endogenous or external proteins further reduces the deviation from the true values. As the improvement strongly depends on the quality of the normaliser measurement, a criteria-based normalisation procedure was developed. Our approach was experimentally verified by application of the proposed methods to time course data obtained by the immunoblotting technique. This analysis showed that the procedure is robust and can significantly improve the quality of experimental data.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: High-quality quantitative data generated under standardized conditions is critical for understanding dynamic cellular processes. We report strategies for error reduction, and algorithms for automated data processing and for establishing the widely used techniques of immunoprecipitation and immunoblotting as highly precise methods for the quantification of protein levels and modifications. To determine the stoichiometry of cellular components and to ensure comparability of experiments, relative signals are converted to absolute values. A major source for errors in blotting techniques are inhomogeneities of the gel and the transfer procedure leading to correlated errors. These correlations are prevented by randomized gel loading, which significantly reduces standard deviations. Further error reduction is achieved by using housekeeping proteins as normalizers or by adding purified proteins in immunoprecipitations as calibrators in combination with criteria-based normalization. Additionally, we developed a computational tool for automated normalization, validation and integration of data derived from multiple immunoblots. In this way, large sets of quantitative data for dynamic pathway modeling can be generated, enabling the identification of systems properties and the prediction of targets for efficient intervention.