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Discrete-state stochastic models are a popular approach to describe the inherent stochasticity of gene expression in single cells. The analysis of such models is hindered by the fact that the underlying discrete state space is extremely large. Therefore hybrid models, in which protein counts are replaced by average protein concentrations, have become a popular alternative. The evolution of the corresponding probability density functions is given by a coupled system of hyperbolic PDEs. This system has Markovian nature but its hyperbolic structure makes it difficult to apply standard functional analytical methods. We are able to prove convergence towards the stationary solution and determine such equilibrium explicitly by combining abstract methods from the theory of positive operators and elementary ideas from potential analysis.
A widely used approach to describe the dynamics of gene regulatory networks is based on the chemical master equation, which considers probability distributions over all possible combinations of molecular counts. The analysis of such models is extremely challenging due to their large discrete state space. We therefore propose a hybrid approximation approach based on a system of partial differential equations, where we assume a continuous-deterministic evolution for the protein counts. We discuss efficient analysis methods for both modeling approaches and compare their performance. We show that the hybrid approach yields accurate results for sufficiently large molecule counts, while reducing the computational effort from one ordinary differential equation for each state to one partial differential equation for each mode of the system. Furthermore, we give an analytical steady-state solution of the hybrid model for the case of a self-regulatory gene.