Scalable rule-based modelling of allosteric proteins and biochemical networks

Julien F Ollivier, Vahid Shahrezaei, Peter S Swain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Much of the complexity of biochemical networks comes from the information-processing abilities of allosteric proteins, be they receptors, ion-channels, signalling molecules or transcription factors. An allosteric protein can be uniquely regulated by each combination of input molecules that it binds. This "regulatory complexity" causes a combinatorial increase in the number of parameters required to fit experimental data as the number of protein interactions increases. It therefore challenges the creation, updating, and re-use of biochemical models. Here, we propose a rule-based modelling framework that exploits the intrinsic modularity of protein structure to address regulatory complexity. Rather than treating proteins as "black boxes", we model their hierarchical structure and, as conformational changes, internal dynamics. By modelling the regulation of allosteric proteins through these conformational changes, we often decrease the number of parameters required to fit data, and so reduce over-fitting and improve the predictive power of a model. Our method is thermodynamically grounded, imposes detailed balance, and also includes molecular cross-talk and the background activity of enzymes. We use our Allosteric Network Compiler to examine how allostery can facilitate macromolecular assembly and how competitive ligands can change the observed cooperativity of an allosteric protein. We also develop a parsimonious model of G protein-coupled receptors that explains functional selectivity and can predict the rank order of potency of agonists acting through a receptor. Our methodology should provide a basis for scalable, modular and executable modelling of biochemical networks in systems and synthetic biology.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1000975
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Volume6
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010

Keywords

  • Algorithms
  • Allosteric Regulation
  • Allosteric Site
  • Binding, Competitive
  • Computational Biology
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Models, Biological
  • Proteins
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thermodynamics

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