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Publications about 'biochemical systems'
Articles in journal or book chapters
and E.D. Sontag.
Chaos in simple periodically-forced biological models.
Note: Submitted. Preprint: biorxiv 10.1101/145201.[PDF]
What complicated dynamics can arise in the simplest biochemical systems, in response to a periodic input? This paper discusses two models that commonly appear as components of larger sensing and signal transduction pathways in systems biology: a simple two-species negative feedback loop, and a prototype nonlinear integral feedback. These systems have globally attracting steady states when unforced, yet, when subject to a periodic excitation, subharmonic responses and strange attractors can arise via period-doubling cascades. These behaviors are similar to those exhibited by classical forced nonlinear oscillators such as those described by van der Pol or Duffing equations. The lack of entrainment to external oscillations, in even the simplest biochemical networks, represents a level of additional complexity in molecular biology.
J. Barton and E.D. Sontag.
The energy costs of insulators in biochemical networks.
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.
D. Del Vecchio,
and E.D. Sontag.
Modular Cell Biology: Retroactivity and Insulation.
Molecular Systems Biology,
Modularity plays a fundamental role in the prediction of the behavior of a system from the behavior of its components, guaranteeing that the properties of individual components do not change upon interconnection. Just as electrical, hydraulic, and other physical systems often do not display modularity, nor do many biochemical systems, and specifically, genetic networks. Here, we study the effect of interconnections on the input/output dynamic characteristics of transcriptional components, focusing on a property, which we call "retroactivity," that plays a role analogous to non-zero output impedance in electrical systems. In transcriptional networks, retroactivity is large when the amount of transcription factor is comparable to, or smaller than, the amount of promoter binding sites, or when the affinity of such binding sites is high. In order to attenuate the effect of retroactivity, we propose a feedback mechanism inspired by the design of amplifiers in electronics. We introduce, in particular, a mechanism based on a phosphorylation/dephosphorylation cycle. This mechanism enjoys a remarkable insulation property, due to the fast time scales of the phosphorylation and dephosphorylation reactions. Such a mechanism, when viewed as a signal transduction system, has thus an inherent capacity to provide insulation and hence to increase the modularity of the system in which it is placed.
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