Cellular differentiation and reprogramming are processes that are carefully orchestrated by the activation and repression of specific sets of genes. An increasing amount of experimental results show that despite the large number of genes participating in transcriptional programs of cellular phenotypes, only few key genes, which are coined here as reprogramming determinants, are required to be directly perturbed in order to induce cellular reprogramming. However, identification of reprogramming determinants still remains a combinatorial problem, and the state-of-art methods addressing this issue rests on exhaustive experimentation or prior knowledge to narrow down the list of candidates.
Parkinsons disease (PD) is a major neurodegenerative chronic disease, most likely caused by a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Information on various aspects of PD pathogenesis is rapidly increasing and needs to be efficiently organized, so that the resulting data is available for exploration and analysis. Here we introduce a computationally tractable, comprehensive molecular interaction map of PD. This map integrates pathways implicated in PD pathogenesis such as synaptic and mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired protein degradation, alpha-synuclein pathobiology and neuroinflammation. We also present bioinformatics tools for the analysis, enrichment and annotation of the map, allowing the research community to open new avenues in PD research. The PD map is accessible at http://minerva.uni.lu/pd_map .
Parametric sensitivity analysis (PSA) has become one of the most commonly used tools in computational systems biology, in which the sensitivity coefficients are used to study the parametric dependence of biological models. As many of these models describe dynamical behaviour of biological systems, the PSA has subsequently been used to elucidate important cellular processes that regulate this dynamics. However, in this paper, we show that the PSA coefficients are not suitable in inferring the mechanisms by which dynamical behaviour arises and in fact it can even lead to incorrect conclusions.
The complexity of cellular networks often limits human intuition in understanding functional regulations in a cell from static network diagrams. To this end, mathematical models of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) have commonly been used to simulate dynamical behavior of cellular networks, to which a quantitative model analysis can be applied in order to gain biological insights. In this paper, we introduce a dynamical analysis based on the use of Greens function matrix (GFM) as sensitivity coefficients with respect to initial concentrations. In contrast to the classical (parametric) sensitivity analysis, the GFM analysis gives a dynamical, molecule-by-molecule insight on how system behavior is accomplished and complementarily how (impulse) signal propagates through the network. The knowledge gained will have application from model reduction and validation to drug discovery research in identifying potential drug targets, studying drug efficacy and specificity, and optimizing drug dosing and timing. The efficacy of the method is demonstrated through applications to common network motifs and a Fas-induced programmed cell death model in Jurkat T cell line.
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