added 4 research items
Comprehensive modeling of a whole cell requires an integration of vast amounts of information on various aspects of the cell and its parts. To divide-and-conquer this task, we introduce Bayesian metamodeling, a general approach to modeling complex systems by integrating a collection of heterogeneous input models. Each input model can in principle be based on any type of data and can describe a different aspect of the modeled system using any mathematical representation, scale, and level of granularity. These input models are (i) converted to a standardized statistical representation relying on Probabilistic Graphical Models, (ii) coupled by modeling their mutual relations with the physical world, and (iii) finally harmonized with respect to each other. To illustrate Bayesian metamodeling, we provide a proof-of-principle metamodel of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion by human pancreatic ß-cells. The input models include a coarse-grained spatiotemporal simulation of insulin vesicle trafficking, docking, and exocytosis; a molecular network model of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion signaling; a network model of insulin metabolism; a structural model of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor activation; a linear model of a pancreatic cell population; and ordinary differential equations for systemic postprandial insulin response. Metamodeling benefits from decentralized computing, while often producing a more accurate, precise, and complete model that contextualizes input models as well as resolves conflicting information. We anticipate Bayesian metamodeling will facilitate collaborative science by providing a framework for sharing expertise, resources, data, and models, as exemplified by the Pancreatic ß-Cell Consortium. Significance Statement Cells are the basic units of life, yet their architecture and function remain to be fully characterized. This work describes Bayesian metamodeling, a modeling approach that divides-and-conquers a large problem of modeling numerous aspects of the cell into computing a number of smaller models of different types, followed by assembling these models into a complete map of the cell. Metamodeling enables a facile collaboration of multiple research groups and communities, thus maximizing the sharing of expertise, resources, data, and models. A proof-of-principle is provided by a model of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion produced by the Pancreatic ß-Cell Consortium.
Subcellular neighborhoods, comprising specific ratios of organelles and proteins, serve a multitude of biological functions and are of particular importance in secretory cells. However, the role of subcellular neighborhoods in insulin vesicle maturation is poorly understood. Here, we present single-cell multiple distinct tomogram acquisitions of beta cells for in situ visualization of distinct subcellular neighborhoods that are involved in the insulin vesicle secretory pathway. We propose that these neighborhoods play an essential role in the specific function of cellular material. In the regions where we observed insulin vesicles, a measurable increase in both the fraction of cellular volume occupied by vesicles and the average size (diameter) of the vesicles was apparent as sampling moved from the area near the nucleus toward the plasma membrane. These findings describe the important role of the nanometer-scale organization of subcellular neighborhoods on insulin vesicle maturation.
Characterizing relationships between cell structures and functions requires mesoscale mapping of intact cells showing subcellular rearrangements following stimulation; however, current approaches are limited in this regard. Here, we report a unique application of soft x-ray tomography to generate three-dimensional reconstructions of whole pancreatic beta cells at different time points following glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Reconstructions following stimulation showed distinct insulin vesicle distribution patterns reflective of altered vesicle pool sizes as they travel through the secretory pathway. Our results show that glucose stimulation caused rapid changes in biochemical composition and/or density of insulin packing, increased mitochondrial volume, and closer proximity of insulin vesicles to mitochondria. Costimulation with exendin-4 (a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist) prolonged these effects and increased insulin packaging efficiency and vesicle maturation. This study provides unique perspectives on the coordinated structural reorganization and interactions of organelles that dictate cell responses.
Diabetes is a worldwide problem affecting hundreds of millions of people with increasing patient numbers every year. Our goal is to assemble a spatiotemporal, multi-scale (atomic to cellular) model of a human pancreatic β-cell to gain a more holistic understanding of β-cell function in diabetes. This effort requires the convergence of structural biology, electron microscopy, X-ray tomography, -omics, live cell imaging, computational and integrative modeling, systems biology, and digital arts. To best integrate these approaches, we formed a consortium of leaders in each field to help collect the necessary data for assembling such a model. As a first step, we have characterized the cellular ultrastructure and generated a consensus of the components of a cell (proteins, nucleic acids, metabolites, lipids, etc.). Two important aspects of this project are developing new tools for data integration and improving communication between collaborators in distant fields. To achieve this goal, we are collaborating with the USC School of Cinematic Arts to generate a virtual reality experience of a β-cell that serves as a new type of tool that can toggle between experimental techniques and scales. This immersive model will allow researchers, students, and the public to explore the rich biochemical world of a β-cell. Together, these models will represent a sophisticated convergence of our understanding of cellular structure and function, revolutionize biological discovery, open new dimensions of research, and accelerate advancements in healthcare.