PLoS Computational Biology

Publishing science
  • The Formation of Multi-synaptic Connections by the Interaction of Synaptic and Structural Plasticity and Their Functional Consequences
    [Jan 2015]

    by Michael Fauth, Florentin Wörgötter, Christian Tetzlaff

    Cortical connectivity emerges from the permanent interaction between neuronal activity and synaptic as well as structural plasticity. An important experimentally observed feature of this connectivity is the distribution of the number of synapses from one neuron to another, which has been measured in several cortical layers. All of these distributions are bimodal with one peak at zero and a second one at a small number (3–8) of synapses. In this study, using a probabilistic model of structural plasticity, which depends on the synaptic weights, we explore how these distributions can emerge and which functional consequences they have. We find that bimodal distributions arise generically from the interaction of structural plasticity with synaptic plasticity rules that fulfill the following biological realistic constraints: First, the synaptic weights have to grow with the postsynaptic activity. Second, this growth curve and/or the input-output relation of the postsynaptic neuron have to change sub-linearly (negative curvature). As most neurons show such input-output-relations, these constraints can be fulfilled by many biological reasonable systems. Given such a system, we show that the different activities, which can explain the layer-specific distributions, correspond to experimentally observed activities. Considering these activities as working point of the system and varying the pre- or postsynaptic stimulation reveals a hysteresis in the number of synapses. As a consequence of this, the connectivity between two neurons can be controlled by activity but is also safeguarded against overly fast changes. These results indicate that the complex dynamics between activity and plasticity will, already between a pair of neurons, induce a variety of possible stable synaptic distributions, which could support memory mechanisms.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Synaptic Plasticity Enables Adaptive Self-Tuning Critical Networks
    [Jan 2015]

    by Nigel Stepp, Dietmar Plenz, Narayan Srinivasa

    During rest, the mammalian cortex displays spontaneous neural activity. Spiking of single neurons during rest has been described as irregular and asynchronous. In contrast, recent in vivo and in vitro population measures of spontaneous activity, using the LFP, EEG, MEG or fMRI suggest that the default state of the cortex is critical, manifested by spontaneous, scale-invariant, cascades of activity known as neuronal avalanches. Criticality keeps a network poised for optimal information processing, but this view seems to be difficult to reconcile with apparently irregular single neuron spiking. Here, we simulate a 10,000 neuron, deterministic, plastic network of spiking neurons. We show that a combination of short- and long-term synaptic plasticity enables these networks to exhibit criticality in the face of intrinsic, i.e. self-sustained, asynchronous spiking. Brief external perturbations lead to adaptive, long-term modification of intrinsic network connectivity through long-term excitatory plasticity, whereas long-term inhibitory plasticity enables rapid self-tuning of the network back to a critical state. The critical state is characterized by a branching parameter oscillating around unity, a critical exponent close to -3/2 and a long tail distribution of a self-similarity parameter between 0.5 and 1.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • The Interaction between Seasonality and Pulsed Interventions against Malaria in Their Effects on the Reproduction Number
    [Jan 2015]

    by Jamie T. Griffin

    The basic reproduction number (R0) is an important quantity summarising the dynamics of an infectious disease, as it quantifies how much effort is needed to control transmission. The relative change in R0 due to an intervention is referred to as the effect size. However malaria and other diseases are often highly seasonal and some interventions have time-varying effects, meaning that simple reproduction number formulae cannot be used. Methods have recently been developed for calculating R0 for diseases with seasonally varying transmission. I extend those methods to calculate the effect size of repeated rounds of mass drug administration, indoor residual spraying and other interventions against Plasmodium falciparum malaria in seasonal settings in Africa. I show that if an intervention reduces transmission from one host to another by a constant factor, then its effect size is the same in a seasonal as in a non-seasonal setting. The optimal time of year for drug administration is in the low season, whereas the best time for indoor residual spraying or a vaccine which reduces infection rates is just before the high season. In general, the impact of time-varying interventions increases with increasing seasonality, if carried out at the optimal time of year. The effect of combinations of interventions that act at different stages of the transmission cycle is roughly the product of the separate effects. However for individual time-varying interventions, it is necessary to use methods such as those developed here rather than inserting the average efficacy into a simple formula.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Inference of Quantitative Models of Bacterial Promoters from Time-Series Reporter Gene Data
    [Jan 2015]

    by Diana Stefan, Corinne Pinel, Stéphane Pinhal, Eugenio Cinquemani, Johannes Geiselmann, Hidde de Jong

    The inference of regulatory interactions and quantitative models of gene regulation from time-series transcriptomics data has been extensively studied and applied to a range of problems in drug discovery, cancer research, and biotechnology. The application of existing methods is commonly based on implicit assumptions on the biological processes under study. First, the measurements of mRNA abundance obtained in transcriptomics experiments are taken to be representative of protein concentrations. Second, the observed changes in gene expression are assumed to be solely due to transcription factors and other specific regulators, while changes in the activity of the gene expression machinery and other global physiological effects are neglected. While convenient in practice, these assumptions are often not valid and bias the reverse engineering process. Here we systematically investigate, using a combination of models and experiments, the importance of this bias and possible corrections. We measure in real time and in vivo the activity of genes involved in the FliA-FlgM module of the E. coli motility network. From these data, we estimate protein concentrations and global physiological effects by means of kinetic models of gene expression. Our results indicate that correcting for the bias of commonly-made assumptions improves the quality of the models inferred from the data. Moreover, we show by simulation that these improvements are expected to be even stronger for systems in which protein concentrations have longer half-lives and the activity of the gene expression machinery varies more strongly across conditions than in the FliA-FlgM module. The approach proposed in this study is broadly applicable when using time-series transcriptome data to learn about the structure and dynamics of regulatory networks. In the case of the FliA-FlgM module, our results demonstrate the importance of global physiological effects and the active regulation of FliA and FlgM half-lives for the dynamics of FliA-dependent promoters.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • System Model Network for Adipose Tissue Signatures Related to Weight Changes in Response to Calorie Restriction and Subsequent Weight Maintenance
    [Jan 2015]

    by Emilie Montastier, Nathalie Villa-Vialaneix, Sylvie Caspar-Bauguil, Petr Hlavaty, Eva Tvrzicka, Ignacio Gonzalez, Wim H. M. Saris, Dominique Langin, Marie Kunesova, Nathalie Viguerie

    Nutrigenomics investigates relationships between nutrients and all genome-encoded molecular entities. This holistic approach requires systems biology to scrutinize the effects of diet on tissue biology. To decipher the adipose tissue (AT) response to diet induced weight changes we focused on key molecular (lipids and transcripts) AT species during a longitudinal dietary intervention. To obtain a systems model, a network approach was used to combine all sets of variables (bio-clinical, fatty acids and mRNA levels) and get an overview of their interactions. AT fatty acids and mRNA levels were quantified in 135 obese women at baseline, after an 8-week low calorie diet (LCD) and after 6 months of ad libitum weight maintenance diet (WMD). After LCD, individuals were stratified a posteriori according to weight change during WMD. A 3 steps approach was used to infer a global model involving the 3 sets of variables. It consisted in inferring intra-omic networks with sparse partial correlations and inter-omic networks with regularized canonical correlation analysis and finally combining the obtained omic-specific network in a single global model. The resulting networks were analyzed using node clustering, systematic important node extraction and cluster comparisons. Overall, AT showed both constant and phase-specific biological signatures in response to dietary intervention. AT from women regaining weight displayed growth factors, angiogenesis and proliferation signaling signatures, suggesting unfavorable tissue hyperplasia. By contrast, after LCD a strong positive relationship between AT myristoleic acid (a fatty acid with low AT level) content and de novo lipogenesis mRNAs was found. This relationship was also observed, after WMD, in the group of women that continued to lose weight. This original system biology approach provides novel insight in the AT response to weight control by highlighting the central role of myristoleic acid that may account for the beneficial effects of weight loss.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • What Makes a Protein Sequence a Prion?
    [Jan 2015]

    by Raimon Sabate, Frederic Rousseau, Joost Schymkowitz, Salvador Ventura

    Typical amyloid diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's were thought to exclusively result from de novo aggregation, but recently it was shown that amyloids formed in one cell can cross-seed aggregation in other cells, following a prion-like mechanism. Despite the large experimental effort devoted to understanding the phenomenon of prion transmissibility, it is still poorly understood how this property is encoded in the primary sequence. In many cases, prion structural conversion is driven by the presence of relatively large glutamine/asparagine (Q/N) enriched segments. Several studies suggest that it is the amino acid composition of these regions rather than their specific sequence that accounts for their priogenicity. However, our analysis indicates that it is instead the presence and potency of specific short amyloid-prone sequences that occur within intrinsically disordered Q/N-rich regions that determine their prion behaviour, modulated by the structural and compositional context. This provides a basis for the accurate identification and evaluation of prion candidate sequences in proteomes in the context of a unified framework for amyloid formation and prion propagation.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Systems Level Analysis of Systemic Sclerosis Shows a Network of Immune and Profibrotic Pathways Connected with Genetic Polymorphisms
    [Jan 2015]

    by J. Matthew Mahoney, Jaclyn Taroni, Viktor Martyanov, Tammara A. Wood, Casey S. Greene, Patricia A. Pioli, Monique E. Hinchcliff, Michael L. Whitfield

    Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a rare systemic autoimmune disease characterized by skin and organ fibrosis. The pathogenesis of SSc and its progression are poorly understood. The SSc intrinsic gene expression subsets (inflammatory, fibroproliferative, normal-like, and limited) are observed in multiple clinical cohorts of patients with SSc. Analysis of longitudinal skin biopsies suggests that a patient's subset assignment is stable over 6–12 months. Genetically, SSc is multi-factorial with many genetic risk loci for SSc generally and for specific clinical manifestations. Here we identify the genes consistently associated with the intrinsic subsets across three independent cohorts, show the relationship between these genes using a gene-gene interaction network, and place the genetic risk loci in the context of the intrinsic subsets. To identify gene expression modules common to three independent datasets from three different clinical centers, we developed a consensus clustering procedure based on mutual information of partitions, an information theory concept, and performed a meta-analysis of these genome-wide gene expression datasets. We created a gene-gene interaction network of the conserved molecular features across the intrinsic subsets and analyzed their connections with SSc-associated genetic polymorphisms. The network is composed of distinct, but interconnected, components related to interferon activation, M2 macrophages, adaptive immunity, extracellular matrix remodeling, and cell proliferation. The network shows extensive connections between the inflammatory- and fibroproliferative-specific genes. The network also shows connections between these subset-specific genes and 30 SSc-associated polymorphic genes including STAT4, BLK, IRF7, NOTCH4, PLAUR, CSK, IRAK1, and several human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes. Our analyses suggest that the gene expression changes underlying the SSc subsets may be long-lived, but mechanistically interconnected and related to a patients underlying genetic risk.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • 150 Years of the Mass Action Law
    [Jan 2015]

    by Eberhard O. Voit, Harald A. Martens, Stig W. Omholt

    This year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the law of mass action. This law is often assumed to have been “there” forever, but it has its own history, background, and a definite starting point. The law has had an impact on chemistry, biochemistry, biomathematics, and systems biology that is difficult to overestimate. It is easily recognized that it is the direct basis for computational enzyme kinetics, ecological systems models, and models for the spread of diseases. The article reviews the explicit and implicit role of the law of mass action in systems biology and reveals how the original, more general formulation of the law emerged one hundred years later ab initio as a very general, canonical representation of biological processes.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Novel Inhibitors Induce Large Conformational Changes of GAB1 Pleckstrin Homology Domain and Kill Breast Cancer Cells
    [Jan 2015]

    by Lu Chen, Lei Du-Cuny, Sylvestor Moses, Sabrina Dumas, Zuohe Song, Abdol Hossein Rezaeian, Hui-Kuan Lin, Emmanuelle J. Meuillet, Shuxing Zhang

    The Grb2-associated binding protein 1 (GAB1) integrates signals from different signaling pathways and is over-expressed in many cancers, therefore representing a new therapeutic target. In the present study, we aim to target the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain of GAB1 for cancer treatment. Using homology models we derived, high-throughput virtual screening of five million compounds resulted in five hits which exhibited strong binding affinities to GAB1 PH domain. Our prediction of ligand binding affinities is also in agreement with the experimental KD values. Furthermore, molecular dynamics studies showed that GAB1 PH domain underwent large conformational changes upon ligand binding. Moreover, these hits inhibited the phosphorylation of GAB1 and demonstrated potent, tumor-specific cytotoxicity against MDA-MB-231 and T47D breast cancer cell lines. This effort represents the discovery of first-in-class GAB1 PH domain inhibitors with potential for targeted breast cancer therapy and provides novel insights into structure-based approaches to targeting this protein.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • The Thalidomide-Binding Domain of Cereblon Defines the CULT Domain Family and Is a New Member of the β-Tent Fold
    [Jan 2015]

    by Andrei N. Lupas, Hongbo Zhu, Mateusz Korycinski

    Despite having caused one of the greatest medical catastrophies of the last century through its teratogenic side-effects, thalidomide continues to be an important agent in the treatment of leprosy and cancer. The protein cereblon, which forms an E3 ubiquitin ligase compex together with damaged DNA-binding protein 1 (DDB1) and cullin 4A, has been recently indentified as a primary target of thalidomide and its C-terminal part as responsible for binding thalidomide within a domain carrying several invariant cysteine and tryptophan residues. This domain, which we name CULT (cereblon domain of unknown activity, binding cellular ligands and thalidomide), is also found in a family of secreted proteins from animals and in a family of bacterial proteins occurring primarily in δ-proteobacteria. Its nearest relatives are yippee, a highly conserved eukaryotic protein of unknown function, and Mis18, a protein involved in the priming of centromeres for recruitment of CENP-A. Searches for distant homologs point to an evolutionary relationship of CULT, yippee, and Mis18 to proteins sharing a common fold, which consists of two four-stranded β-meanders packing at a roughly right angle and coordinating a zinc ion at their apex. A β-hairpin inserted into the first β-meander extends across the bottom of the structure towards the C-terminal edge of the second β-meander, with which it forms a cradle-shaped binding site that is topologically conserved in all members of this fold. We name this the β-tent fold for the striking arrangement of its constituent β-sheets. The fold has internal pseudosymmetry, raising the possibility that it arose by duplication of a subdomain-sized fragment.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Analysis of Individual Protein Regions Provides Novel Insights on Cancer Pharmacogenomics
    [Jan 2015]

    by Eduard Porta Pardo, Adam Godzik

    The promise of personalized cancer medicine cannot be fulfilled until we gain better understanding of the connections between the genomic makeup of a patient's tumor and its response to anticancer drugs. Several datasets that include both pharmacologic profiles of cancer cell lines as well as their genomic alterations have been recently developed and extensively analyzed. However, most analyses of these datasets assume that mutations in a gene will have the same consequences regardless of their location. While this assumption might be correct in some cases, such analyses may miss subtler, yet still relevant, effects mediated by mutations in specific protein regions. Here we study such perturbations by separating effects of mutations in different protein functional regions (PFRs), including protein domains and intrinsically disordered regions. Using this approach, we have been able to identify 171 novel associations between mutations in specific PFRs and changes in the activity of 24 drugs that couldn't be recovered by traditional gene-centric analyses. Our results demonstrate how focusing on individual protein regions can provide novel insights into the mechanisms underlying the drug sensitivity of cancer cell lines. Moreover, while these new correlations are identified using only data from cancer cell lines, we have been able to validate some of our predictions using data from actual cancer patients. Our findings highlight how gene-centric experiments (such as systematic knock-out or silencing of individual genes) are missing relevant effects mediated by perturbations of specific protein regions. All the associations described here are available from http://www.cancer3d.org.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Orientation Selectivity in Inhibition-Dominated Networks of Spiking Neurons: Effect of Single Neuron Properties and Network Dynamics
    [Jan 2015]

    by Sadra Sadeh, Stefan Rotter

    The neuronal mechanisms underlying the emergence of orientation selectivity in the primary visual cortex of mammals are still elusive. In rodents, visual neurons show highly selective responses to oriented stimuli, but neighboring neurons do not necessarily have similar preferences. Instead of a smooth map, one observes a salt-and-pepper organization of orientation selectivity. Modeling studies have recently confirmed that balanced random networks are indeed capable of amplifying weakly tuned inputs and generating highly selective output responses, even in absence of feature-selective recurrent connectivity. Here we seek to elucidate the neuronal mechanisms underlying this phenomenon by resorting to networks of integrate-and-fire neurons, which are amenable to analytic treatment. Specifically, in networks of perfect integrate-and-fire neurons, we observe that highly selective and contrast invariant output responses emerge, very similar to networks of leaky integrate-and-fire neurons. We then demonstrate that a theory based on mean firing rates and the detailed network topology predicts the output responses, and explains the mechanisms underlying the suppression of the common-mode, amplification of modulation, and contrast invariance. Increasing inhibition dominance in our networks makes the rectifying nonlinearity more prominent, which in turn adds some distortions to the otherwise essentially linear prediction. An extension of the linear theory can account for all the distortions, enabling us to compute the exact shape of every individual tuning curve in our networks. We show that this simple form of nonlinearity adds two important properties to orientation selectivity in the network, namely sharpening of tuning curves and extra suppression of the modulation. The theory can be further extended to account for the nonlinearity of the leaky model by replacing the rectifier by the appropriate smooth input-output transfer function. These results are robust and do not depend on the state of network dynamics, and hold equally well for mean-driven and fluctuation-driven regimes of activity.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Identification of Constrained Cancer Driver Genes Based on Mutation Timing
    [Jan 2015]

    by Thomas Sakoparnig, Patrick Fried, Niko Beerenwinkel

    Cancer drivers are genomic alterations that provide cells containing them with a selective advantage over their local competitors, whereas neutral passengers do not change the somatic fitness of cells. Cancer-driving mutations are usually discriminated from passenger mutations by their higher degree of recurrence in tumor samples. However, there is increasing evidence that many additional driver mutations may exist that occur at very low frequencies among tumors. This observation has prompted alternative methods for driver detection, including finding groups of mutually exclusive mutations and incorporating prior biological knowledge about gene function or network structure. Dependencies among drivers due to epistatic interactions can also result in low mutation frequencies, but this effect has been ignored in driver detection so far. Here, we present a new computational approach for identifying genomic alterations that occur at low frequencies because they depend on other events. Unlike passengers, these constrained mutations display punctuated patterns of occurrence in time. We test this driver–passenger discrimination approach based on mutation timing in extensive simulation studies, and we apply it to cross-sectional copy number alteration (CNA) data from ovarian cancer, CNA and single-nucleotide variant (SNV) data from breast tumors and SNV data from colorectal cancer. Among the top ranked predicted drivers, we find low-frequency genes that have already been shown to be involved in carcinogenesis, as well as many new candidate drivers. The mutation timing approach is orthogonal and complementary to existing driver prediction methods. It will help identifying from cancer genome data the alterations that drive tumor progression.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Brain Network Adaptability across Task States
    [Jan 2015]

    by Elizabeth N. Davison, Kimberly J. Schlesinger, Danielle S. Bassett, Mary-Ellen Lynall, Michael B. Miller, Scott T. Grafton, Jean M. Carlson

    Activity in the human brain moves between diverse functional states to meet the demands of our dynamic environment, but fundamental principles guiding these transitions remain poorly understood. Here, we capitalize on recent advances in network science to analyze patterns of functional interactions between brain regions. We use dynamic network representations to probe the landscape of brain reconfigurations that accompany task performance both within and between four cognitive states: a task-free resting state, an attention-demanding state, and two memory-demanding states. Using the formalism of hypergraphs, we identify the presence of groups of functional interactions that fluctuate coherently in strength over time both within (task-specific) and across (task-general) brain states. In contrast to prior emphases on the complexity of many dyadic (region-to-region) relationships, these results demonstrate that brain adaptability can be described by common processes that drive the dynamic integration of cognitive systems. Moreover, our results establish the hypergraph as an effective measure for understanding functional brain dynamics, which may also prove useful in examining cross-task, cross-age, and cross-cohort functional change.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • A Computational Framework for 3D Mechanical Modeling of Plant Morphogenesis with Cellular Resolution
    [Jan 2015]

    by Frédéric Boudon, Jérôme Chopard, Olivier Ali, Benjamin Gilles, Olivier Hamant, Arezki Boudaoud, Jan Traas, Christophe Godin

    The link between genetic regulation and the definition of form and size during morphogenesis remains largely an open question in both plant and animal biology. This is partially due to the complexity of the process, involving extensive molecular networks, multiple feedbacks between different scales of organization and physical forces operating at multiple levels. Here we present a conceptual and modeling framework aimed at generating an integrated understanding of morphogenesis in plants. This framework is based on the biophysical properties of plant cells, which are under high internal turgor pressure, and are prevented from bursting because of the presence of a rigid cell wall. To control cell growth, the underlying molecular networks must interfere locally with the elastic and/or plastic extensibility of this cell wall. We present a model in the form of a three dimensional (3D) virtual tissue, where growth depends on the local modulation of wall mechanical properties and turgor pressure. The model shows how forces generated by turgor-pressure can act both cell autonomously and non-cell autonomously to drive growth in different directions. We use simulations to explore lateral organ formation at the shoot apical meristem. Although different scenarios lead to similar shape changes, they are not equivalent and lead to different, testable predictions regarding the mechanical and geometrical properties of the growing lateral organs. Using flower development as an example, we further show how a limited number of gene activities can explain the complex shape changes that accompany organ outgrowth.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Modulation of Elementary Calcium Release Mediates a Transition from Puffs to Waves in an IP3R Cluster Model
    [Jan 2015]

    by Martin Rückl, Ian Parker, Jonathan S. Marchant, Chamakuri Nagaiah, Friedrich W. Johenning, Sten Rüdiger

    The oscillating concentration of intracellular calcium is one of the most important examples for collective dynamics in cell biology. Localized releases of calcium through clusters of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor channels constitute elementary signals called calcium puffs. Coupling by diffusing calcium leads to global releases and waves, but the exact mechanism of inter-cluster coupling and triggering of waves is unknown. To elucidate the relation of puffs and waves, we here model a cluster of IP3R channels using a gating scheme with variable non-equilibrium IP3 binding. Hybrid stochastic and deterministic simulations show that puffs are not stereotyped events of constant duration but are sensitive to stimulation strength and residual calcium. For increasing IP3 concentration, the release events become modulated at a timescale of minutes, with repetitive wave-like releases interspersed with several puffs. This modulation is consistent with experimental observations we present, including refractoriness and increase of puff frequency during the inter-wave interval. Our results suggest that waves are established by a random but time-modulated appearance of sustained release events, which have a high potential to trigger and synchronize activity throughout the cell.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Simulating the Complex Cell Design of Trypanosoma brucei and Its Motility
    [Jan 2015]

    by Davod Alizadehrad, Timothy Krüger, Markus Engstler, Holger Stark

    The flagellate Trypanosoma brucei, which causes the sleeping sickness when infecting a mammalian host, goes through an intricate life cycle. It has a rather complex propulsion mechanism and swims in diverse microenvironments. These continuously exert selective pressure, to which the trypanosome adjusts with its architecture and behavior. As a result, the trypanosome assumes a diversity of complex morphotypes during its life cycle. However, although cell biology has detailed form and function of most of them, experimental data on the dynamic behavior and development of most morphotypes is lacking. Here we show that simulation science can predict intermediate cell designs by conducting specific and controlled modifications of an accurate, nature-inspired cell model, which we developed using information from live cell analyses. The cell models account for several important characteristics of the real trypanosomal morphotypes, such as the geometry and elastic properties of the cell body, and their swimming mechanism using an eukaryotic flagellum. We introduce an elastic network model for the cell body, including bending rigidity and simulate swimming in a fluid environment, using the mesoscale simulation technique called multi-particle collision dynamics. The in silico trypanosome of the bloodstream form displays the characteristic in vivo rotational and translational motility pattern that is crucial for survival and virulence in the vertebrate host. Moreover, our model accurately simulates the trypanosome's tumbling and backward motion. We show that the distinctive course of the attached flagellum around the cell body is one important aspect to produce the observed swimming behavior in a viscous fluid, and also required to reach the maximal swimming velocity. Changing details of the flagellar attachment generates less efficient swimmers. We also simulate different morphotypes that occur during the parasite's development in the tsetse fly, and predict a flagellar course we have not been able to measure in experiments so far.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Bayesian History Matching of Complex Infectious Disease Models Using Emulation: A Tutorial and a Case Study on HIV in Uganda
    [Jan 2015]

    by Ioannis Andrianakis, Ian R. Vernon, Nicky McCreesh, Trevelyan J. McKinley, Jeremy E. Oakley, Rebecca N. Nsubuga, Michael Goldstein, Richard G. White

    Advances in scientific computing have allowed the development of complex models that are being routinely applied to problems in disease epidemiology, public health and decision making. The utility of these models depends in part on how well they can reproduce empirical data. However, fitting such models to real world data is greatly hindered both by large numbers of input and output parameters, and by long run times, such that many modelling studies lack a formal calibration methodology. We present a novel method that has the potential to improve the calibration of complex infectious disease models (hereafter called simulators). We present this in the form of a tutorial and a case study where we history match a dynamic, event-driven, individual-based stochastic HIV simulator, using extensive demographic, behavioural and epidemiological data available from Uganda. The tutorial describes history matching and emulation. History matching is an iterative procedure that reduces the simulator's input space by identifying and discarding areas that are unlikely to provide a good match to the empirical data. History matching relies on the computational efficiency of a Bayesian representation of the simulator, known as an emulator. Emulators mimic the simulator's behaviour, but are often several orders of magnitude faster to evaluate. In the case study, we use a 22 input simulator, fitting its 18 outputs simultaneously. After 9 iterations of history matching, a non-implausible region of the simulator input space was identified that was times smaller than the original input space. Simulator evaluations made within this region were found to have a 65% probability of fitting all 18 outputs. History matching and emulation are useful additions to the toolbox of infectious disease modellers. Further research is required to explicitly address the stochastic nature of the simulator as well as to account for correlations between outputs.
    Categories: Journal Articles
  • Mapping the Pareto Optimal Design Space for a Functionally Deimmunized Biotherapeutic Candidate
    [Jan 2015]

    by Regina S. Salvat, Andrew S. Parker, Yoonjoo Choi, Chris Bailey-Kellogg, Karl E. Griswold

    The immunogenicity of biotherapeutics can bottleneck development pipelines and poses a barrier to widespread clinical application. As a result, there is a growing need for improved deimmunization technologies. We have recently described algorithms that simultaneously optimize proteins for both reduced T cell epitope content and high-level function. In silico analysis of this dual objective design space reveals that there is no single global optimum with respect to protein deimmunization. Instead, mutagenic epitope deletion yields a spectrum of designs that exhibit tradeoffs between immunogenic potential and molecular function. The leading edge of this design space is the Pareto frontier, i.e. the undominated variants for which no other single design exhibits better performance in both criteria. Here, the Pareto frontier of a therapeutic enzyme has been designed, constructed, and evaluated experimentally. Various measures of protein performance were found to map a functional sequence space that correlated well with computational predictions. These results represent the first systematic and rigorous assessment of the functional penalty that must be paid for pursuing progressively more deimmunized biotherapeutic candidates. Given this capacity to rapidly assess and design for tradeoffs between protein immunogenicity and functionality, these algorithms may prove useful in augmenting, accelerating, and de-risking experimental deimmunization efforts.
    Categories: Journal Articles