Rule-based Modelling of Cellular Signalling

Vincent Danos, Jérôme Feret, Walter Fontana, Russell Harmer, Jean Krivine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Modelling is becoming a necessity in studying biological signalling pathways, because the combinatorial complexity of such systems rapidly overwhelms intuitive and qualitative forms of reasoning. Yet, this same combinatorial explosion makes the traditional modelling paradigm based on systems of differential equations impractical. In contrast, agent-based or concurrent languages, such as κ [1,2,3] or the closely related BioNetGen language [4,5,6,7,8,9,10], describe biological interactions in terms of rules, thereby avoiding the combinatorial explosion besetting differential equations. Rules are expressed in an intuitive graphical form that transparently represents biological knowledge. In this way, rules become a natural unit of model building, modification, and discussion. We illustrate this with a sizeable example obtained from refactoring two models of EGF receptor signalling that are based on differential equations [11,12]. An exciting aspect of the agent-based approach is that it naturally lends itself to the identification and analysis of the causal structures that deeply shape the dynamical, and perhaps even evolutionary, characteristics of complex distributed biological systems. In particular, one can adapt the notions of causality and conflict, familiar from concurrency theory, to κ, our representation language of choice. Using the EGF receptor model as an example, we show how causality enables the formalization of the colloquial concept of pathway and, perhaps more surprisingly, how conflict can be used to dissect the signalling dynamics to obtain a qualitative handle on the range of system behaviours. By taming the combinatorial explosion, and exposing the causal structures and key kinetic junctures in a model, agent- and rule-based representations hold promise for making modelling more powerful, more perspicuous, and of appeal to a wider audience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 18th International Conference on Concurrency Theory
Place of PublicationBerlin, Heidelberg
PublisherSpringer-Verlag
Pages17-41
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-540-74407-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-540-74406-1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameCONCUR'07
PublisherSpringer-Verlag

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