The Membrane Environment Can Promote or Suppress Bistability in Cell Signaling Networks

Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.
The Journal of Physical Chemistry B (Impact Factor: 3.3). 02/2012; 116(11):3630-40. DOI: 10.1021/jp2102385
Source: PubMed


Many key biochemical reactions that mediate signal transduction in cells occur at the cell membrane, yet how the two-dimensional membrane environment influences the collective behavior of signaling networks is poorly understood. We study models of two topologically different signaling pathways that exhibit bistability, examining the effects of reduced protein mobility and increased concentration at the membrane, as well as effects due to differences in spatiotemporal correlations between the membrane environment and three-dimensional cytoplasm. The two model networks represent the distributive enzymatic modification of a protein at multiple sites and the positive feedback-mediated activation of a protein. In both cases, we find that confining proteins to a membrane-like environment can markedly alter the emergent dynamics. For the distributive protein modification network, increased concentration promotes bistability through enhanced protein-protein binding, while lower mobility and membrane-enhanced spatiotemporal correlations suppress bistability. For the positive feedback-mediated activation network, confinement to a membrane environment enhances protein activation, which can induce bistability or stabilize a monostable, active state. Importantly, the influence of the membrane environment on signaling dynamics can be qualitatively different for signaling modules with different network topologies.

Download full-text


Available from: Arthur Weiss, Jun 30, 2014
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Src and Syk families of kinases are two distinct sets of kinases that play critical roles in initiating membrane-proximal B cell receptor (BCR) signaling. However, unlike in other lymphocytes, such as T cells, the "division of labor" between Src family kinases (SFKs) and Syk in B cells is not well separated because both Syk and SFKs can phosphorylate immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs (ITAMs) present in proteins comprising the BCR. To understand why B cells require both SFKs and Syk for activation, we investigated the roles of both families of kinases in BCR signaling with computational modeling and in vitro experiments. Our computational model suggested that positive feedback enabled Syk to substantially compensate for the absence of SFKs when spatial clustering of BCRs was induced by multimeric ligands. We confirmed this prediction experimentally. In contrast, when B cells were stimulated by monomeric ligands that failed to produce BCR clustering, both Syk and SFKs were required for complete and rapid BCR activation. Our data suggest that SFKs could play a pivotal role in increasing BCR sensitivity to monomeric antigens of pathogens and in mediating a rapid response to soluble multimeric antigens of pathogens that can induce spatial BCR clustering.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Science Signaling
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transitions between steady states of a multi-stable stochastic system in the perfectly mixed chemical reactor are possible only because of stochastic switching. In realistic cellular conditions, where diffusion is limited, transitions between steady states can also follow from the propagation of travelling waves. Here, we study the interplay between the two modes of transition for a prototype bistable system of kinase-phosphatase interactions on the plasma membrane. Within microscopic kinetic Monte Carlo simulations on the hexagonal lattice, we observed that for finite diffusion the behaviour of the spatially extended system differs qualitatively from the behaviour of the same system in the well-mixed regime. Even when a small isolated subcompartment remains mostly inactive, the chemical travelling wave may propagate, leading to the activation of a larger compartment. The activating wave can be induced after a small subdomain is activated as a result of a stochastic fluctuation. Such a spontaneous onset of activity is radically more probable in subdomains characterized by slower diffusion. Our results show that a local immobilization of substrates can lead to the global activation of membrane proteins by the mechanism that involves stochastic fluctuations followed by the propagation of a semi-deterministic travelling wave.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Journal of The Royal Society Interface
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It is now well established that the cell is a highly crowded environment. Yet, the effects of crowding on the dynamics of signaling pathways, gene regulation networks, and metabolic networks are still largely unknown. Crowding can alter both molecular diffusion and the equilibria of biomolecular reactions. In this chapter, we first discuss how diffusion can affect biochemical networks. Diffusion of transcription factors can increase noise in gene expression, while diffusion of proteins between intracellular compartments or between cells can reduce concentration fluctuations. In push-pull networks diffusion can impede information transmission, while in multisite protein modification networks diffusion can qualitatively change the macroscopic response of the system, such as the loss or emergence of bistability. Moreover, diffusion can directly change the metabolic flux. We describe how crowding affects diffusion, and thus how all these phenomena are influenced by crowding. Yet, a potentially more important effect of crowding on biochemical networks is mediated via the shift in the equilibria of bimolecular reactions, and we provide computational evidence that supports this idea. Finally, we discuss how the effects of crowding can be incorporated in models of biochemical networks.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2014 · International review of cell and molecular biology
Show more