2016 Conference on Computational Modelling with COPASI
Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, 12th – 13th May, 2016

A new efficient approach to fit stochastic models on the basis of high-throughput experimental data using a model of IRF7 gene expression as case study

Luis Aguilera1, Christoph Zimmer1, Sven Sahle1, Ursula Kummer1

1 - Heidelberg University, Germany

Keywords: stochastic models, parameter estimation, IRF7 gene expression


Mathematical models are used to gain an integrative understanding of biochemical processes and networks. Commonly the models are based on deterministic ordinary differential equations. When molecular counts are low, stochastic formalisms like Monte Carlo simulations are more appropriate and well established. However, compared to the wealth of computational methods used to fit and analyze deterministic models, there is only little available to quantify the exactness of the fit of stochastic models compared to experimental data or to analyze different aspects of the modeling results. Here, we developed a method to fit stochastic simulations to experimental high-throughput data, meaning data that exhibits distributions. The method uses a comparison of the probability density functions that are computed based on Monte Carlo simulations and the experimental data. Multiple parameter values are iteratively evaluated using optimization routines. The method improves its performance by selecting parameters values after comparing the similitude between the deterministic stability of the system and the modes in the experimental data distribution. The programming strategy involved the binding of COPASI with Matlab to generate a fully automated source code. As a case study we fitted a model of the IRF7 gene expression circuit to time-course experimental data obtained by flow cytometry. IRF7 shows bimodal dynamics upon IFN stimulation. This dynamics occurs due to the switching between active and basal states of the IRF7 promoter. However, the exact molecular mechanisms responsible for the switching of the IRF7 promoter state are not fully understood. Our results allow us to conclude that the activation of the IRF7 promoter by the combination of IRF7 and ISGF3 is sufficient to explain the observed bimodal dynamics.

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