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Publications of Eduardo D. Sontag jointly with J. Barton
Articles in journal or book chapters
  1. J. Barton and E.D. Sontag. The energy costs of insulators in biochemical networks. Biophysical Journal, 104:1390-1380, 2013. [PDF]
    Abstract:
    Complex networks of biochemical reactions, such as intracellular protein signaling pathways and genetic networks, are often conceptualized in terms of ``modules,'' semi-independent collections of components that perform a well-defined function and which may be incorporated in multiple pathways. However, due to sequestration of molecular messengers during interactions and other effects, collectively referred to as retroactivity, real biochemical systems do not exhibit perfect modularity. Biochemical signaling pathways can be insulated from impedance and competition effects, which inhibit modularity, through enzymatic ``futile cycles'' which consume energy, typically in the form of ATP. We hypothesize that better insulation necessarily requires higher energy consumption. We test this hypothesis through a combined theoretical and computational analysis of a simplified physical model of covalent cycles, using two innovative measures of insulation, as well as a new way to characterize optimal insulation through the balancing of these two measures in a Pareto sense. Our results indicate that indeed better insulation requires more energy. While insulation may facilitate evolution by enabling a modular ``plug and play'' interconnection architecture, allowing for the creation of new behaviors by adding targets to existing pathways, our work suggests that this potential benefit must be balanced against the metabolic costs of insulation necessarily incurred in not affecting the behavior of existing processes.


Internal reports
  1. J. Barton and E.D. Sontag. Remarks on the energy costs of insulators in enzymatic cascades. Technical report, http://arxiv.org/abs/1412.8065, December 2014. [PDF] Keyword(s): retroactivity, systems biology, biochemical networks, futile cycles, singular perturbations, modularity.
    Abstract:
    The connection between optimal biological function and energy use, measured for example by the rate of metabolite consumption, is a current topic of interest in the systems biology literature which has been explored in several different contexts. In [J. P. Barton and E. D. Sontag, Biophys. J. 104, 6 (2013)], we related the metabolic cost of enzymatic futile cycles with their capacity to act as insulators which facilitate modular interconnections in biochemical networks. There we analyzed a simple model system in which a signal molecule regulates the transcription of one or more target proteins by interacting with their promoters. In this note, we consider the case of a protein with an active and an inactive form, and whose activation is controlled by the signal molecule. As in the original case, higher rates of energy consumption are required for better insulator performance.


  2. J. Barton and E.D. Sontag. The energy costs of biological insulators. Technical report, http://arxiv.org/abs/1210.3809, October 2012. Keyword(s): retroactivity, systems biology, biochemical networks, futile cycles, singular perturbations, modularity.
    Abstract:
    Biochemical signaling pathways can be insulated from impedance and competition effects through enzymatic "futile cycles" which consume energy, typically in the form of ATP. We hypothesize that better insulation necessarily requires higher energy consumption, and provide evidence, through the computational analysis of a simplified physical model, to support this hypothesis.



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Last modified: Thu Nov 23 10:40:56 2017
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