BioRxiv preprint:

Authors: Hannah A Kinmonth-Schultz, Melissa J MacEwen, Daniel Seaton, Andrew Millar, Takato Imaizumi, Soo-Hyung Kim

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Morpheus is a modeling environment for the simulation and integration of cell-based models with ordinary differential equations and reaction-diffusion systems. It allows rapid development of multiscale models in biological terms and mathematical expressions rather than programming code. Its graphical user interface supports the entire workflow from model construction and simulation to visualization, archiving and batch processing.

Authors: J. Starruss, W. de Back, Lutz Brusch, A. Deutsch

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: Bioinformatics

Abstract (Expand)

Tryptophan is utilized in various metabolic routes including protein synthesis, serotonin, and melatonin synthesis and the kynurenine pathway. Perturbations in these pathways have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Here we present a comprehensive kinetic model of the complex network of human tryptophan metabolism based upon existing kinetic data for all enzymatic conversions and transporters. By integrating tissue-specific expression data, modeling tryptophan metabolism in liver and brain returned intermediate metabolite concentrations in the physiological range. Sensitivity and metabolic control analyses identified expected key enzymes to govern fluxes in the branches of the network. Combining tissue-specific models revealed a considerable impact of the kynurenine pathway in liver on the concentrations of neuroactive derivatives in the brain. Moreover, using expression data from a cancer study predicted metabolite changes that resembled the experimental observations. We conclude that the combination of the kinetic model with expression data represents a powerful diagnostic tool to predict alterations in tryptophan metabolism. The model is readily scalable to include more tissues, thereby enabling assessment of organismal tryptophan metabolism in health and disease.

Authors: A. K. Stavrum, Ines Heiland, S. Schuster, P. Puntervoll, Mathias Ziegler

Date Published: No date defined

Journal: J Biol Chem

Abstract (Expand)

The dopaminergic effect of PAH and PFAS mixtures, prepared according to environmentally relevant concentrations, has been studied in juvenile female Atlantic cod ( Gadus morhua). Benzo[a]pyrene, dibenzothiophene, fluorene, naphthalene, phenanthrene, and pyrene were used to prepare a PAH mixture, while PFNA, PFOA, PFOS, and PFTrA were used to prepare a PFAS mixture. Cod were injected intraperitoneally twice, with either a low (1x) or high (20x) dose of each compound mixture or their combinations. After 2 weeks of exposure, levels of plasma 17beta-estradiol (E2) were significantly elevated in high PAH/high PFAS treated group. Brain dopamine/metabolite ratios (DOPAC/dopamine and HVA+DOPAC/dopamine) changed with E2 plasma levels, except for high PAH/low PFAS and low PAH/high PFAS treated groups. On the transcript levels, th mRNA inversely correlated with dopamine/metabolite ratios and gnrh2 mRNA levels. Respective decreases and increases of drd1 and drd2a after exposure to the high PAH dose were observed. Specifically, high PFAS exposure decreased both drds, leading to high plasma E2 concentrations. Other studied end points suggest that these compounds, at different doses and combinations, have different toxicity threshold and modes of action. These effects indicate potential alterations in the feedback signaling processes within the dopaminergic pathway by these contaminant mixtures.

Authors: Essa Ahsan Khan, L. B. Bertotto, Karina Dale, R. Lille-Langoy, Fekadu Yadetie, Odd André Karlsen, Anders Goksøyr, D. Schlenk, A. Arukwe

Date Published: 18th Jun 2019

Journal: Environ Sci Technol

Abstract (Expand)

Plants sense light and temperature changes to regulate flowering time. Here, we show that expression of the Arabidopsis florigen gene, FLOWERING LOCUS T (FT), peaks in the morning during spring, a different pattern than we observe in the laboratory. Providing our laboratory growth conditions with a red/far-red light ratio similar to open-field conditions and daily temperature oscillation is sufficient to mimic the FT expression and flowering time in natural long days. Under the adjusted growth conditions, key light signalling components, such as phytochrome A and EARLY FLOWERING 3, play important roles in morning FT expression. These conditions stabilize CONSTANS protein, a major FT activator, in the morning, which is probably a critical mechanism for photoperiodic flowering in nature. Refining the parameters of our standard growth conditions to more precisely mimic plant responses in nature can provide a powerful method for improving our understanding of seasonal response.

Authors: Y. H. Song, A. Kubota, M. S. Kwon, M. F. Covington, N. Lee, E. R. Taagen, D. Laboy Cintron, D. Y. Hwang, R. Akiyama, S. K. Hodge, H. Huang, N. H. Nguyen, D. A. Nusinow, A. J. Millar, K. K. Shimizu, T. Imaizumi

Date Published: 27th Sep 2018

Journal: Nat Plants

Abstract (Expand)

Leptospirillum ferriphilum plays a major role in acidic, metal rich environments where it represents one of the most prevalent iron oxidizers. These milieus include acid rock and mine drainage as well as biomining operations. Despite its perceived importance, no complete genome sequence of this model species' type strain is available, limiting the possibilities to investigate the strategies and adaptations Leptospirillum ferriphilumT applies to survive and compete in its niche. This study presents a complete, circular genome of Leptospirillum ferriphilumT DSM 14647 obtained by PacBio SMRT long read sequencing for use as a high quality reference. Analysis of the functionally annotated genome, mRNA transcripts, and protein concentrations revealed a previously undiscovered nitrogenase cluster for atmospheric nitrogen fixation and elucidated metabolic systems taking part in energy conservation, carbon fixation, pH homeostasis, heavy metal tolerance, oxidative stress response, chemotaxis and motility, quorum sensing, and biofilm formation. Additionally, mRNA transcript counts and protein concentrations were compared between cells grown in continuous culture using ferrous iron as substrate and bioleaching cultures containing chalcopyrite (CuFeS2). Leptospirillum ferriphilumT adaptations to growth on chalcopyrite included a possibly enhanced production of reducing power, reduced carbon dioxide fixation, as well as elevated RNA transcripts and proteins involved in heavy metal resistance, with special emphasis on copper efflux systems. Finally, expression and translation of genes responsible for chemotaxis and motility were enhanced.

Authors: Stephan Christel, Malte Herold, Soeren Bellenberg, Mohamed El Hajjami, Antoine Buetti-Dinh, Igor Pivkin, Wolfgang Sand, Paul Wilmes, Ansgar Poetsch, Mark Dopson

Date Published: 1st Feb 2018

Journal: Appl Environ Microbiol

Abstract (Expand)

Constraint based methods, such as the Flux Balance Analysis, are widely used to model cellular growth processes without relying on extensive information on the regulatory features. The regulation is instead substituted by an optimization problem usually aiming at maximal biomass accumulation. A recent extension to these methods called the dynamic enzyme-cost Flux Balance Analysis (deFBA) is a fully dynamic modeling method allowing for the prediction of necessary enzyme levels under changing environmental conditions. However, this method was designed for deterministic settings in which all dynamics, parameters, etc. are exactly known. In this work, we present a theoretical framework extending the deFBA to handle uncertainties and provide a robust solution. We use the ideas from multi-stage nonlinear Model Predictive Control (MPC) and its feature to represent the evolution of uncertainties by an exponentially growing scenario tree. While this representation is able to construct a deterministic optimization problem in the presence of uncertainties, the computational cost also increases exponentially. We counter this by using a receding prediction horizon and reshape the standard deFBA to the short-time deFBA (sdeFBA). This leads us, along with further simplification of the scenario tree, to the robust deFBA (rdeFBA). This framework is capable of handling the uncertainties in the model itself as well as uncertainties experienced by the modeled system. We applied these algorithms to two case-studies: a minimal enzymatic nutrient uptake network, and the abstraction of the core metabolic process in bacteria.

Authors: Henning Lindhorst, Sergio Lucia, Rolf Findeisen, Steffen Waldherr

Date Published: 13th Jun 2017

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Adaptive Laboratory Evolution (ALE) is increasingly being used as a technique for untargeted strain optimization. This work aimed at developing an automated and miniaturized ALE approach based on repetitive batch cultivations in microtiter plates. The new method is applied to the recently published strain Corynebacterium glutamicum pEKEx3-xylXABCDCc, which is capable of utilizing d-xylose via the Weimberg (WMB) pathway. As a result, the significantly improved strain WMB2evo was obtained, showing a specific growth rate of 0.26h-1 on d-xylose as sole carbon and energy source. WMB2evo grows stable during lab-scale bioreactor operation, demonstrating the high potential of this strain for future biorefinery applications. Genome sequencing of cell samples from two different ALE processes revealed potential key mutations, e.g. in the gene cg0196 (encoding for the transcriptional regulator IolR of the myo-inositol metabolism). These findings open up new perspectives for the rational engineering of C. glutamicum towards improved d-xylose utilization.

Authors: A. Radek, Niklas Tenhaef, M. F. Muller, Christian Brüsseler, W. Wiechert, Jan Marienhagen, T. Polen, Stephan Noack

Date Published: 30th May 2017

Journal: Bioresour Technol

Abstract (Expand)

Cell activation is a vital step for T-cell memory/effector differentiation as well as for productive HIV infection. To identify novel regulators of this process, we used next-generation sequencing to profile changes in microRNA expression occurring in purified human naive CD4 T cells in response to TCR stimulation and/or HIV infection. Our results demonstrate, for the first time, the transcriptional up-regulation of miR-34c-5p in response to TCR stimulation in naive CD4 T cells. The induction of this miR was further consistently found to be reduced by both HIV-1 and HIV-2 infections. Overexpression of miR-34c-5p led to changes in the expression of several genes involved in TCR signaling and cell activation, confirming its role as a novel regulator of naive CD4 T-cell activation. We additionally show that miR-34c-5p promotes HIV-1 replication, suggesting that its down-regulation during HIV infection may be part of an anti-viral host response.

Authors: A. J. Amaral, J. Andrade, R. B. Foxall, P. Matoso, A. M. Matos, R. S. Soares, C. Rocha, C. G. Ramos, R. Tendeiro, A. Serra-Caetano, J. A. Guerra-Assuncao, M. Santa-Marta, J. Goncalves, Margarida Gama-Carvalho, A. E. Sousa

Date Published: 1st Feb 2017

Journal: EMBO J

Abstract (Expand)

Sucrose translocation between plant tissues is crucial for growth, development and reproduction of plants. Systemic analysis of these metabolic and underlying regulatory processes allow a detailed understanding of carbon distribution within the plant and the formation of associated phenotypic traits. Sucrose translocation from ‘source’ tissues (e.g. mesophyll) to ‘sink’ tissues (e.g. root) is tightly bound to the proton gradient across the membranes. The plant sucrose transporters are grouped into efflux exporters (SWEET family) and proton-symport importers (SUC, STP families). To better understand regulation of sucrose export from source tissues and sucrose import into sink tissues, there is a need for a metabolic model that takes in account the tissue organisation of Arabidopsis thaliana with corresponding metabolic specificities of respective tissues in terms of sucrose and proton production/utilization. An ability of the model to operate under different light modes (‘light’ and ‘dark’) and correspondingly in different energy producing modes is particularly important in understanding regulatory modules.

Authors: Maksim Zakhartsev, Irina Medvedeva, Yuriy Orlov, Ilya Akberdin, Olga Krebs, Waltraud Schulze

Date Published: 1st Dec 2016

Journal: BMC Plant Biol

Abstract (Expand)

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between fluorine-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (F-FDG) uptake and molecular biological markers in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) patients. METHODS: Our patient population included 51 patients who underwent F-FDG PET/computed tomography before surgery. Excised tumor tissue was analyzed immunohistochemically using monoclonal antibodies for glucose transporter-1 (GLUT-1), GLUT-3, CD34 [microvessel density (MVD) marker], CD68 (macrophage marker), and CD163 (tumor-associated macrophage marker). The relationships among pathological factors [pathological T stage (p-T stage), pathological lymph node status (p-N status), pathological stage (p-stage), and pathological tumor length], the maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax), and these molecular biological markers were evaluated using Spearman's rank test and the Kruskal-Wallis test. RESULTS: GLUT-1, GLUT-3, CD34, and CD163 significantly correlated with SUVmax (r=0.547, P<0.001 for GLUT-1; r=0.569, P<0.001 for GLUT-3; r=0.463, P=0.001 for CD34, r=0.455, P=0.001 for CD163), whereas SUVmax, GLUT-1, GLUT-3, CD34, and CD163 significantly correlated with p-T stage (r=0.552, P<0.001 for SUVmax, r=0.307, P=0.03 for GLUT-1, r=0.349, P=0.013 for GLUT-3, r=0.313, P=0.027 for CD34, r=0.526 for CD163, P<0.001), but not with p-N status. CD68 levels showed no significant correlation with SUVmax, p-T stage, p-stage, or p-N status. CONCLUSION: SUVmax, GLUT-1 expression, GLUT-3 expression, MVD, and TAMs show a relationship with the tumor stage and extent of ESCC. GLUT-1, GLUT-3, MVD, and TAMs are associated with the mechanism of F-FDG uptake in ESCC.

Authors: Y. Hirose, H. Kaida, A. Kawahara, S. Matono, T. Tanaka, S. Kurata, M. Kage, M. Ishibashi, T. Abe

Date Published: 25th May 2016

Journal: Nucl Med Commun

Abstract (Expand)

In previous studies human mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) maintained the "stemness" of human hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) through direct cell-cell contact in two-dimensional co-culture systems. We establish a three-dimensional (3D) co-culture system based on a custom-made chip, the 3(D)-KITChip, as an in vitro model system of the human hematopoietic stem cell niche. This array of up to 625 microcavities, with 300 mum size in each orientation, was inserted into a microfluidic bioreactor. The microcavities of the 3(D)-KITChip were inoculated with human bone marrow MSCs together with umbilical cord blood HPCs. MSCs used the microcavities as a scaffold to build a complex 3D mesh. HPCs were distributed three-dimensionally inside this MSC network and formed ss-catenin- and N-cadherin-based intercellular junctions to the surrounding MSCs. Using RT(2)-PCR and western blots, we demonstrate that a proportion of HPCs maintained the expression of CD34 throughout a culture period of 14 days. In colony-forming unit assays, the hematopoietic stem cell plasticity remained similar after 14 days of bioreactor co-culture, whereas monolayer co-cultures showed increasing signs of HPC differentiation and loss of stemness. These data support the notion that the 3D microenvironment created within the microcavity array preserves vital stem cell functions of HPCs more efficiently than conventional co-culture systems.

Authors: P. Wuchter, Rainer Saffrich, S. Giselbrecht, C. Nies, H. Lorig, S. Kolb, A. D. Ho, E. Gottwald

Date Published: 30th Jan 2016

Journal: Cell Tissue Res

Abstract (Expand)

Canonized view on temperature effects on growth rate of microorganisms is based on assumption of protein denaturation, which is not confirmed experimentally so far. We develop an alternative concept, which is based on view that limits of thermal tolerance are based on imbalance of cellular energy allocation. Therefore, we investigated growth suppression of yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the supraoptimal temperature range (30–40 °C), i.e. above optimal temperature (Topt). The maximal specific growth rate (μmax) of biomass, its concentration and yield on glucose (Yx/glc) were measured across the whole thermal window (5–40 °C) of the yeast in batch anaerobic growth on glucose. Specific rate of glucose consumption, specific rate of glucose consumption for maintenance (mglc), true biomass yield on glucose (View the MathML source), fractional conservation of substrate carbon in product and ATP yield on glucose (Yatp/glc) were estimated from the experimental data. There was a negative linear relationship between ATP, ADP and AMP concentrations and specific growth rate at any growth conditions, whilst the energy charge was always high (~0.83). There were two temperature regions where mglc differed 12-fold, which points to the existence of a ‘low’ (within 5–31 °C) and a ‘high’ (within 33–40 °C) metabolic mode regarding maintenance requirements. The rise from the low to high mode occurred at 31–32 °C in step-wise manner and it was accompanied with onset of suppression of μmax. High mglc at supraoptimal temperatures indicates a significant reduction of scope for growth, due to high maintenance cost. Analysis of temperature dependencies of product formation efficiency and Yatp/glc revealed that the efficiency of energy metabolism approaches its lower limit at 26–31 °C. This limit is reflected in the predetermined combination of View the MathML source, elemental biomass composition and degree of reduction of the growth substrate. Approaching the limit implies a reduction of the safety margin of metabolic efficiency. We hypothesize that a temperature increase above Topt (e.g. >31 °C) triggers both an increment in mglc and suppression of μmax, which together contribute to an upshift of Yatp/glc from the lower limit and thus compensate for the loss of the safety margin. This trade-off allows adding 10 more degrees to Topt and extends the thermal window up to 40 °C, sustaining survival and reproduction in supraoptimal temperatures. Deeper understanding of the limits of thermal tolerance can be practically exploited in biotechnological applications.

Authors: Maksim Zakhartsev, Xuelian Yang, Matthias Reuss, Hans Otto Pörtner

Date Published: 1st Aug 2015

Journal: Journal of Thermal Biology

Abstract (Expand)

Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) possess broad immunomodulatory capacities that are currently investigated for potential clinical application in treating autoimmune disorders. Third-party MSCs suppress alloantigen-induced proliferation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells providing the rationale for clinical use in graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). We confirmed that MSCs strongly inhibited proliferation of CD8(+) T cells in a mixed lymphocyte reaction. However, MSCs also suppressed proliferation of T cells specifically recognizing cytomegalovirus (CMV) and influenza virus. Inhibition was dose dependent, but independent of the culture medium. MSCs inhibited proliferation of specific CD8(+) T cells and the release of IFN-gamma by specific CD8(+) T cells for immunodominant HLA-A2- and HLA-B7- restricted antigen epitopes derived from CMV phosphoprotein 65 and influenza matrix protein. This is in contrast to a recently reported scenario where MSCs exert differential effects on alloantigen and virus-specific T cells potentially having an impact on surveillance and prophylaxis of patients treated by MSCs.

Authors: G. Malcherek, N. Jin, A. G. Huckelhoven, J. Mani, L. Wang, U. Gern, A. Diehlmann, P. Wuchter, A. Schmitt, B. Chen, A. D. Ho, M. Schmitt

Date Published: 17th Sep 2014

Journal: Leukemia

Abstract (Expand)

Understanding how dynamic molecular networks affect whole-organism physiology, analogous to mapping genotype to phenotype, remains a key challenge in biology. Quantitative models that represent processes at multiple scales and link understanding from several research domains can help to tackle this problem. Such integrated models are more common in crop science and ecophysiology than in the research communities that elucidate molecular networks. Several laboratories have modeled particular aspects of growth in Arabidopsis thaliana, but it was unclear whether these existing models could productively be combined. We test this approach by constructing a multiscale model of Arabidopsis rosette growth. Four existing models were integrated with minimal parameter modification (leaf water content and one flowering parameter used measured data). The resulting framework model links genetic regulation and biochemical dynamics to events at the organ and whole-plant levels, helping to understand the combined effects of endogenous and environmental regulators on Arabidopsis growth. The framework model was validated and tested with metabolic, physiological, and biomass data from two laboratories, for five photoperiods, three accessions, and a transgenic line, highlighting the plasticity of plant growth strategies. The model was extended to include stochastic development. Model simulations gave insight into the developmental control of leaf production and provided a quantitative explanation for the pleiotropic developmental phenotype caused by overexpression of miR156, which was an open question. Modular, multiscale models, assembling knowledge from systems biology to ecophysiology, will help to understand and to engineer plant behavior from the genome to the field.

Authors: Yin Hoon Chew, B. Wenden, A. Flis, Virginie Mengin, J. Taylor, C. L. Davey, C. Tindal, H. Thomas, H. J. Ougham, P. de Reffye, M. Stitt, M. Williams, Robert Muetzelfeldt, Karen Halliday, Andrew Millar

Date Published: 10th Sep 2014

Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Abstract (Expand)

The Computational Modeling in Biology Network (COMBINE) is an initiative to coordinate the development of community standards and formats in computational systems biology and related fields. This report summarizes the topics and activities of the fourth edition of the annual COMBINE meeting, held in Paris during September 16-20 2013, and attended by a total of 96 people. This edition pioneered a first day devoted to modeling approaches in biology, which attracted a broad audience of scientists thanks to a panel of renowned speakers. During subsequent days, discussions were held on many subjects including the introduction of new features in the various COMBINE standards, new software tools that use the standards, and outreach efforts. Significant emphasis went into work on extensions of the SBML format, and also into community-building. This year’s edition once again demonstrated that the COMBINE community is thriving, and still manages to help coordinate activities between different standards in computational systems biology.

Authors: Dagmar Waltemath, Frank T. Bergmann, Claudine Chaouiya, Tobias Czauderna, Padraig Gleeson, Carole Goble, Martin Golebiewski, Michael Hucka, Nick Juty, Olga Krebs, Nicolas Le Novère, Huaiyu Mi, Ion I. Moraru, Chris J. Myers, David Nickerson, Brett G. Olivier, Nicolas Rodriguez, Falk Schreiber, Lucian Smith, Fengkai Zhang, Eric Bonnet

Date Published: 15th Mar 2014

Journal: Stand. Genomic Sci.


Not specified

Authors: M. Schmitt, L. P. Muller, G. Keysser, H. M. Lorenz, A. D. Ho, P. Wuchter

Date Published: 4th Sep 2013

Journal: Dtsch Med Wochenschr

Abstract (Expand)

The high osmolarity glycerol (HOG) pathway in yeast serves as a prototype signalling system for eukaryotes. We used an unprecedented amount of data to parameterise 192 models capturing different hypotheses about molecular mechanisms underlying osmo-adaptation and selected a best approximating model. This model implied novel mechanisms regulating osmo-adaptation in yeast. The model suggested that (i) the main mechanism for osmo-adaptation is a fast and transient non-transcriptional Hog1-mediated activation of glycerol production, (ii) the transcriptional response serves to maintain an increased steady-state glycerol production with low steady-state Hog1 activity, and (iii) fast negative feedbacks of activated Hog1 on upstream signalling branches serves to stabilise adaptation response. The best approximating model also indicated that homoeostatic adaptive systems with two parallel redundant signalling branches show a more robust and faster response than single-branch systems. We corroborated this notion to a large extent by dedicated measurements of volume recovery in single cells. Our study also demonstrates that systematically testing a model ensemble against data has the potential to achieve a better and unbiased understanding of molecular mechanisms.

Authors: J. Schaber, R. Baltanas, A. Bush, E. Klipp, A. Colman-Lerner

Date Published: 15th Nov 2012

Journal: Mol Syst Biol

Abstract (Expand)

The Gram-positive soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis uses glucose and malate as the preferred carbon sources. In the presence of either glucose or malate, the expression of genes and operons for the utilization of secondary carbon sources is subject to carbon catabolite repression. While glucose is a preferred substrate in many organisms from bacteria to man, the factors that contribute to the preference for malate have so far remained elusive. In this work, we have studied the contribution of the different malate-metabolizing enzymes in B. subtilis, and we have elucidated their distinct functions. The malate dehydrogenase and the phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase are both essential for malate utilization; they introduce malate into gluconeogenesis. The NADPH-generating malic enzyme YtsJ is important to establish the cellular pools of NADPH for anabolic reactions. Finally, the NADH-generating malic enzymes MaeA, MalS, and MleA are involved in keeping the ATP levels high. Together, this unique array of distinct activities makes malate a preferred carbon source for B. subtilis.

Authors: Frederik M Meyer, Joerg Stuelke

Date Published: 10th Nov 2012

Journal: FEMS Microbiol. Lett.

Abstract (Expand)

The active center of multi-subunit RNA polymerase consists of two modules, the Mg(2+) module, holding the catalytic Mg(2+) ion, and a module made of a flexible domain, the Trigger Loop. Uniquely, the TL module can be substituted by alternative modules, thus changing the catalytic properties of the active center.

Authors: Yulia Yuzenkova, Mohammad Roghanian, Nikolay Zenkin

Date Published: 10th Jul 2012

Journal: Transcription

Abstract (Expand)

Encouraging more broad and inclusive data sharing in today's world will involve concerted community efforts to overcome technical barriers and human foibles. Vivien Marx investigates. (includess comments from Carole Goble, and mentions SysMO, SEEK and RightField).

Author: Vivien Marx

Date Published: 7th Jun 2012

Journal: Nat Biotechnol

Abstract (Expand)

Many of the complex systems found in biology are comprised of numerous components, where interactions between individual agents result in the emergence of structures and function, typically in a highly dynamic manner. Often these entities have limited lifetimes but their interactions both with each other and their environment can have profound biological consequences. We will demonstrate how modelling these entities, and their interactions, can lead to a new approach to experimental biology bringing new insights and a deeper understanding of biological systems.

Authors: Michael Holcombe, Salem Adra, Mesude Bicak, Shawn Chin, Simon Coakley, Alison Graham, Jeff Green, Chris Greenough, Duncan Jackson, Mariam Kiran, Sheila MacNeil, Afsaneh Maleki-Dizaji, Phil McMinn, Mark Pogson, Robert Poole, Eva Qwarnstrom, Francis Ratnieks, Matthew Rolfe, Rod Smallwood, Tao Sun, David Worth

Date Published: 2012

Journal: Integr Biol (Camb)

Abstract (Expand)

Bacteria in the genus Streptomyces are soil-dwelling oligotrophs and important producers of secondary metabolites. Previously, we showed that global messenger RNA expression was subject to a series of metabolic and regulatory switches during the lifetime of a fermentor batch culture of Streptomyces coelicolor M145. Here we analyze the proteome from eight time points from the same fermentor culture and, because phosphate availability is an important regulator of secondary metabolite production, compare this to the proteome of a similar time course from an S. coelicolor mutant, INB201 (DeltaphoP), defective in the control of phosphate utilization. The proteomes provide a detailed view of enzymes involved in central carbon and nitrogen metabolism. Trends in protein expression over the time courses were deduced from a protein abundance index, which also revealed the importance of stress pathway proteins in both cultures. As expected, the DeltaphoP mutant was deficient in expression of PhoP-dependent genes, and several putatively compensatory metabolic and regulatory pathways for phosphate scavenging were detected. Notably there is a succession of switches that coordinately induce the production of enzymes for five different secondary metabolite biosynthesis pathways over the course of the batch cultures.

Authors: L. Thomas, D. A. Hodgson, A. Wentzel, K. Nieselt, T. E. Ellingsen, J. Moore, E. R. Morrissey, R. Legaie, W. Wohlleben, A. Rodriguez-Garcia, J. F. Martin, N. J. Burroughs, E. M. Wellington, M. C. Smith

Date Published: 8th Dec 2011

Journal: Mol Cell Proteomics

Abstract (Expand)

Most organisms can choose their preferred carbon source from a mixture of nutrients. This process is called carbon catabolite repression. The Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis uses glucose as the preferred source of carbon and energy. Glucose-mediated catabolite repression is caused by binding of the CcpA transcription factor to the promoter regions of catabolic operons. CcpA binds DNA upon interaction with its cofactors HPr(Ser-P) and Crh(Ser-P). The formation of the cofactors is catalyzed by the metabolite-activated HPr kinase/phosphorylase. Recently, it has been shown that malate is a second preferred carbon source for B. subtilis that also causes catabolite repression. In this work, we addressed the mechanism by which malate causes catabolite repression. Genetic analyses revealed that malate-dependent catabolite repression requires CcpA and its cofactors. Moreover, we demonstrate that HPr(Ser-P) is present in malate-grown cells and that CcpA and HPr interact in vivo in the presence of glucose or malate but not in the absence of a repressing carbon source. The formation of the cofactor HPr(Ser-P) could be attributed to the concentrations of ATP and fructose 1,6-bisphosphate in cells growing with malate. Both metabolites are available at concentrations that are sufficient to stimulate HPr kinase activity. The adaptation of cells to environmental changes requires dynamic metabolic and regulatory adjustments. The repression strength of target promoters was similar to that observed in steady-state growth conditions, although it took somewhat longer to reach the second steady-state of expression when cells were shifted to malate.

Authors: Frederik M Meyer, Matthieu Jules, Felix M P Mehne, Dominique Le Coq, Jens J Landmann, Boris Görke, Stéphane Aymerich, Joerg Stuelke

Date Published: 14th Oct 2011

Journal: J. Bacteriol.

Abstract (Expand)

Systems biology is a comprehensive quantitative analysis how the components of a biological system interact over time which requires an interdisciplinary team of investigators. System-theoretic methods are applied to investigate the system's behavior. Using known information about the considered system, a conceptual model is defined. It is transferred in a mathematical model that can be simulated (analytically or numerically) and analyzed using system-theoretic tools. Finally, simulation results are compared with experimental data. However, assumptions, approximations, and requirements to available experimental data are crucial ingredients of this systems biology workflow. Consequently, the modeling of cellular processes creates special demands on the design of experiments: the quality, the amount, and the completeness of data. The relation between models and data is discussed in this chapter. Thereby, we focus on the requirements on experimental data from the perspective of systems biology projects.

Authors: None

Date Published: 11th Nov 2010

Journal: Methods Mol. Biol.

Abstract (Expand)

We review recent observations on the mobility of macromolecules and their spatial organization in live bacterial cells. We outline the major fluorescence microscopy-based methods to determine the mobility and thus the diffusion coefficients (D) of molecules, which is not trivial in small cells. The extremely high macromolecule crowding of prokaryotes is used to rationalize the reported lower diffusion coefficients as compared to eukaryotes, and we speculate on the nature of the barriers for diffusion observed for proteins (and mRNAs) in vivo. Building on in vitro experiments and modeling studies, we evaluate the size dependence of diffusion coefficients for macromolecules in vivo, in case of both water-soluble and integral membrane proteins. We comment on the possibilities of anomalous diffusion and provide examples where the macromolecule mobility may be limiting biological processes.

Authors: None

Date Published: 16th Oct 2010

Journal: Curr. Opin. Biotechnol.

Abstract (Expand)

The recent years have seen tremendous progress towards the understanding of microbial metabolism on a higher level of the entire functional system. Hereby, huge achievements including the sequencing of complete genomes and efficient post-genomic approaches provide the basis for a new, fascinating era of research-analysis of metabolic and regulatory properties on a global scale. Metabolic flux (fluxome) analysis displays the first systems oriented approach to unravel the physiology of microorganisms since it combines experimental data with metabolic network models and allows determining absolute fluxes through larger networks of central carbon metabolism. Hereby, fluxes are of central importance for systems level understanding because they fundamentally represent the cellular phenotype as integrated output of the cellular components, i.e. genes, transcripts, proteins, and metabolites. A currently emerging and promising area of research in systems biology and systems metabolic engineering is therefore the integration of fluxome data in multi-omics studies to unravel the multiple layers of control that superimpose the flux network and enable its optimal operation under different environmental conditions.

Authors: Michael Kohlstedt, Judith Becker, Christoph Wittmann

Date Published: 7th Sep 2010

Journal: Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol.

Abstract (Expand)

We determined the diffusion coefficients (D) of (macro)molecules of different sizes (from ∼0.5 to 600 kDa) in the cytoplasm of live Escherichia coli cells under normal osmotic conditions and osmotic upshift. D values decreased with increasing molecular weight of the molecules. Upon osmotic upshift, the decrease in D of NBD-glucose was much smaller than that of macromolecules. Barriers for diffusion were found in osmotically challenged cells only for GFP and larger proteins. These barriers are likely formed by the nucleoid and crowding of the cytoplasm. The cytoplasm of E. coli appears as a meshwork allowing the free passage of small molecules while restricting the diffusion of bigger ones.

Authors: Jacek Mika, Geert Van Den Bogaart, Liesbeth Veenhoff, Victor Krasnikov, Bert Poolman

Date Published: 1st Jul 2010

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Metabolomics analysis, which aims at the systematic identification and quantification of all metabolites in biological systems, is emerging as a powerful new tool to identify biomarkers of disease, report on cellular responses to environmental perturbation, and to identify the targets of drugs. Here we discuss recent developments in metabolomic analysis, from the perspective of trypanosome research, highlighting remaining challenges and the most promising areas for future research.

Authors: None

Date Published: 17th Feb 2010

Journal: Parasitology

Abstract (Expand)

In vivo nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) monitoring requires a high-density cell suspension, where cell precipitation should be avoided. We have designed a miniaturized cell agitator that fits entirely into an 8-mm NMR probe but that, being mounted into the instrument, is situated outside of the sensitive area. The device consists of two glass tubes connected in a way that, when gas flow is blown through them, creates influx of cell suspension into the device that returns through apertures. This flow creates continuous circular vortex of the cell suspension in the whole sample volume, whereas there are no moving mechanical parts or gas bubbles crossing the instrument’s sensitive area. The gas flow controls conditions of the cell suspension and removes volatile waste metabolites.

Authors: Maksim Zakhartsev, Christian Bock

Date Published: 1st Feb 2010

Journal: Analytical Biochemistry

Abstract (Expand)

Background The transition from exponential to stationary phase in Streptomyces coelicolor is accompanied by a major metabolic switch and results in a strong activation of secondary metabolism. Here we have explored the underlying reorganization of the metabolome by combining computational predictions based on constraint-based modeling and detailed transcriptomics time course observations. Results We reconstructed the stoichiometric matrix of S. coelicolor, including the major antibiotic biosynthesis pathways, and performed flux balance analysis to predict flux changes that occur when the cell switches from biomass to antibiotic production. We defined the model input based on observed fermenter culture data and used a dynamically varying objective function to represent the metabolic switch. The predicted fluxes of many genes show highly significant correlation to the time series of the corresponding gene expression data. Individual mispredictions identify novel links between antibiotic production and primary metabolism. Conclusion Our results show the usefulness of constraint-based modeling for providing a detailed interpretation of time course gene expression data. Other Sections▼

Authors: M. Tauqeer Alam, Maria Elena Merlo, The STREAM Consortium (stream), David Hodgson, Elizabeth Wellington, Eriko Takano, Rainer Breitling

Date Published: 2010

Journal: BMC Genomics

Abstract (Expand)

A major part of organismal complexity and versatility of prokaryotes resides in their ability to fine-tune gene expression to adequately respond to internal and external stimuli. Evolution has been very innovative in creating intricate mechanisms by which different regulatory signals operate and interact at promoters to drive gene expression. The regulation of target gene expression by transcription factors (TFs) is governed by control logic brought about by the interaction of regulators with TF binding sites (TFBSs) in cis-regulatory regions. A factor that in large part determines the strength of the response of a target to a given TF is motif stringency, the extent to which the TFBS fits the optimal TFBS sequence for a given TF. Advances in high-throughput technologies and computational genomics allow reconstruction of transcriptional regulatory networks in silico. To optimize the prediction of transcriptional regulatory networks, i.e., to separate direct regulation from indirect regulation, a thorough understanding of the control logic underlying the regulation of gene expression is required. This review summarizes the state of the art of the elements that determine the functionality of TFBSs by focusing on the molecular biological mechanisms and evolutionary origins of cis-regulatory regions.

Authors: Sacha A F T van Hijum, Marnix H Medema, Oscar Kuipers

Date Published: 2nd Sep 2009

Journal: Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev.

Abstract (Expand)

Bacillus subtilis cells may opt to forgo normal cell division and instead form spores if subjected to certain environmental stimuli, for example nutrient deficiency or extreme temperature. The resulting spores are extremely resilient and can survive for extensive periods of time, importantly under particularly harsh conditions such as those mentioned above. The sporulation process is highly time and energy consuming and essentially irreversible. The bacteria must therefore ensure that this route is only undertaken under appropriate circumstances. The gene regulation network governing sporulation initiation accordingly incorporates a variety of signals and is of significant complexity. We present a model of this network that includes four of these signals: nutrient levels, DNA damage, the products of the competence genes, and cell population size. Our results can be summarised as follows: (i) the model displays the correct phenotypic behaviour in response to these signals; (ii) a basal level of sda expression may prevent sporulation in the presence of nutrients; (iii) sporulation is more likely to occur in a large population of cells than in a small one; (iv) finally, and of most interest, PhrA can act simultaneously as a quorum-sensing signal and as a timing mechanism, delaying sporulation when the cell has damaged DNA, possibly thereby allowing the cell time to repair its DNA before forming a spore.

Authors: None

Date Published: 21st Jul 2009

Journal: Not specified

Abstract (Expand)

Staphylococcus aureus is a pathogenic bacterium that utilises quorum sensing (QS), a cell-to-cell signalling mechanism, to enhance its ability to cause disease. QS allows the bacteria to monitor their surroundings and the size of their population, and S. aureus makes use of this to regulate the production of virulence factors. Here we describe a mathematical model of this QS system and perform a detailed time-dependent asymptotic analysis in order to clarify the roles of the distinct interactions that make up the QS process, demonstrating which reactions dominate the behaviour of the system at various timepoints. We couple this analysis with numerical simulations and are thus able to gain insight into how a large population of S. aureus shifts from a relatively harmless state to a highly virulent one, focussing on the need for the three distinct phases which form the feedback loop of this particular QS system.

Authors: Sara Jabbari, John King, Adrian J Koerber, Paul Williams

Date Published: 19th Feb 2009

Journal: J Math Biol

Abstract (Expand)

Bacillus subtilis serves as an excellent model to study protein secretion at a proteomic scale. Most of the extracellular proteins are exported from the cytoplasm via the secretory (Sec) pathway. Despite extensive studies, the secretion mechanisms of about 25% of the extracellular proteins are unknown. This suggests that B. subtilis makes use of alternative mechanisms to release proteins into its environment. In search for novel pathways, which contribute to biogenesis of the B. subtilis exoproteome, we investigated a possible role of the large conductance mechanosensitive channel protein MscL. We compared protein secretion by MscL deficient and proficient B. subtilis cells. MscL did not contribute to secretion under standard growth conditions. Unexpectedly, we discovered that under hypo-osmotic shock conditions specific, normally cytoplasmic proteins were released by mscL mutant cells. This protein release was selective since not all cytoplasmic proteins were equally well released. We established that this protein release by mscL mutant cells cannot be attributed to cell death or lysis. The presence of MscL, therefore, seems to prevent the specific release of cytoplasmic proteins by B. subtilis during hypo-osmotic shock. Our unprecedented findings imply that an unidentified system for selective release of cytoplasmic proteins is active in B. subtilis.

Authors: Thijs R H M Kouwen, Haike Antelmann, René van der Ploeg, Emma L Denham, Michael Hecker, Jan Maarten Van Dijl

Date Published: 23rd Jan 2009

Journal: Proteomics

Abstract (Expand)

We have developed MINOMICS, a tool that allows facile and in-depth visualization of prokaryotic transcriptomic and proteomic data in conjunction with genomics data. MINOMICS generates interactive linear genome maps in which multiple experimental datasets are displayed together with operon, regulatory motif, transcriptional promoter and transcriptional terminator information. AVAILABILITY: MINOMICS is freely accessible at

Authors: Rutger W W Brouwer, Sacha A F T van Hijum, Oscar Kuipers

Date Published: 12th Nov 2008

Journal: Bioinformatics

Abstract (Expand)

Disulfide bonds are important for the correct folding, structural integrity, and activity of many biotechnologically relevant proteins. For synthesis and subsequent secretion of these proteins in bacteria, such as the well-known "cell factory" Bacillus subtilis, it is often the correct formation of disulfide bonds that is the greatest bottleneck. Degradation of inefficiently or incorrectly oxidized proteins and the requirement for costly and time-consuming reduction and oxidation steps in the downstream processing of the proteins still are major limitations for full exploitation of B. subtilis for biopharmaceutical production. Therefore, the present study was aimed at developing a novel in vivo strategy for improved production of secreted disulfide-bond-containing proteins. Three approaches were tested: depletion of the major cytoplasmic reductase TrxA; introduction of the heterologous oxidase DsbA from Staphylococcus carnosus; and addition of redox-active compounds to the growth medium. As shown using the disulfide-bond-containing molecule Escherichia coli PhoA as a model protein, combined use of these three approaches resulted in secretion of amounts of active PhoA that were approximately 3.5-fold larger than the amounts secreted by the parental strain B. subtilis 168. Our findings indicate that Bacillus strains with improved oxidizing properties can be engineered for biotechnological production of heterologous high-value proteins containing disulfide bonds.

Authors: Thijs R H M Kouwen, Jean-Yves F Dubois, Roland Freudl, Wim J Quax, Jan Maarten Van Dijl

Date Published: 24th Oct 2008

Journal: Appl. Environ. Microbiol.

Abstract (Expand)

Bacillus subtilis has been developed as a model system for physiological proteomics. However, thus far these studies have mainly been limited to cytoplasmic, extracellular, and cell-wall attached proteins. Although being certainly important for cell physiology, the membrane protein fraction has not been studied in comparable depth due to inaccessibility by traditional 2-DE-based workflows and limitations in reliable quantification. In this study, we now compare the potential of stable isotope labeling with amino acids (SILAC) and (14)N/(15)N-labeling for the analysis of bacterial membrane fractions in physiology-driven proteomic studies. Using adaptation of B. subtilis to amino acid (lysine) and glucose starvation as proof of principle scenarios, we show that both approaches provide similarly valuable data for the quantification of bacterial membrane proteins. Even if labeling with stable amino acids allows a more straightforward analysis of data, the (14)N/(15)N-labeling has some advantages in general such as labeling of all amino acids and thereby increasing the number of peptides for quantification. Both, SILAC as well as (14)N/(15)N-labeling are compatible with 2-DE, 2-D LC-MS/MS, and GeLC-MS/MS and thus will allow comprehensive simultaneous interrogation of cytoplasmic and enriched membrane proteomes.

Authors: Annette Dreisbach, Andreas Otto, Dörte Becher, Elke Hammer, Alexander Teumer, Joost W Gouw, Michael Hecker, Uwe Voelker

Date Published: 21st May 2008

Journal: Proteomics

Abstract (Expand)

SUMMARY: We present a Cytoscape plugin for the inference and visualization of networks from high-resolution mass spectrometry metabolomic data. The software also provides access to basic topological analysis. This open source, multi-platform software has been successfully used to interpret metabolomic experiments and will enable others using filtered, high mass accuracy mass spectrometric data sets to build and analyse networks. AVAILABILITY:

Authors: Fabien Jourdan, Rainer Breitling, Michael P Barrett, David Gilbert

Date Published: 14th Nov 2007

Journal: Bioinformatics

Abstract (Expand)

Microarray analysis has become a widely used tool for the generation of gene expression data on a genomic scale. Although many significant results have been derived from microarray studies, one limitation has been the lack of standards for presenting and exchanging such data. Here we present a proposal, the Minimum Information About a Microarray Experiment (MIAME), that describes the minimum information required to ensure that microarray data can be easily interpreted and that results derived from its analysis can be independently verified. The ultimate goal of this work is to establish a standard for recording and reporting microarray-based gene expression data, which will in turn facilitate the establishment of databases and public repositories and enable the development of data analysis tools. With respect to MIAME, we concentrate on defining the content and structure of the necessary information rather than the technical format for capturing it.

Authors: A. Brazma, P. Hingamp, J. Quackenbush, G. Sherlock, P. Spellman, C. Stoeckert, J. Aach, W. Ansorge, C. A. Ball, H. C. Causton, T. Gaasterland, P. Glenisson, F. C. Holstege, I. F. Kim, V. Markowitz, J. C. Matese, H. Parkinson, A. Robinson, U. Sarkans, S. Schulze-Kremer, J. Stewart, R. Taylor, J. Vilo, M. Vingron

Date Published: 1st Dec 2001

Journal: Nat Genet

Abstract (Expand)

The proteins cdc2 and cyclin form a heterodimer (maturation promoting factor) that controls the major events of the cell cycle. A mathematical model for the interactions of cdc2 and cyclin is constructed. Simulation and analysis of the model show that the control system can operate in three modes: as a steady state with high maturation promoting factor activity, as a spontaneous oscillator, or as an excitable switch. We associate the steady state with metaphase arrest in unfertilized eggs, the spontaneous oscillations with rapid division cycles in early embryos, and the excitable switch with growth-controlled division cycles typical of nonembryonic cells.

Author: J. J. Tyson

Date Published: 15th Aug 1991

Journal: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

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