Abstract
The chemical Langevin equation (CLE) is a popular simulation method to probe the stochastic dynamics of chemical systems. The CLE's main disadvantage is its break down in finite time due to the problem of evaluating square roots of negative quantities whenever the molecule numbers become sufficiently small. We show that this issue is not a numerical integration problem, rather in many systems it is intrinsic to all representations of the CLE. Various methods of correcting the CLE have been proposed which avoid its break down. We show that these methods introduce undesirable artefacts in the CLE's predictions. In particular, for unimolecular systems, these correction methods lead to CLE predictions for the mean concentrations and variance of fluctuations which disagree with those of the chemical master equation. We show that, by extending the domain of the CLE to complex space, break down is eliminated, and the CLE's accuracy for unimolecular systems is restored. Although the molecule numbers are generally complex, we show that the "complex CLE" predicts realvalued quantities for the mean concentrations, the moments of intrinsic noise, power spectra, and first passage times, hence admitting a physical interpretation. It is also shown to provide a more accurate approximation of the chemical master equation of simple biochemical circuits involving bimolecular reactions than the various corrected forms of the realvalued CLE, the linearnoise approximation and a commonly used two momentclosure approximation.
Original language  English 

Article number  024103 
Journal  Journal of Chemical Physics 
Volume  141 
Issue number  2 
DOIs  
Publication status  Published  14 Jul 2014 
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Ramon Grima
 School of Biological Sciences  Personal Chair of Mathematical Biology
 SynthSys
Person: Academic: Research Active