Role of intracellular stochasticity in biofilm growth. Insights from population balance modeling.
ABSTRACT: There is increasing recognition that stochasticity involved in gene regulatory processes may help cells enhance the signal or synchronize expression for a group of genes. Thus the validity of the traditional deterministic approach to modeling the foregoing processes cannot be without exception. In this study, we identify a frequently encountered situation, i.e., the biofilm, which has in the past been persistently investigated with intracellular deterministic models in the literature. We show in this paper circumstances in which use of the intracellular deterministic model appears distinctly inappropriate. In Enterococcus faecalis, the horizontal gene transfer of plasmid spreads drug resistance. The induction of conjugation in planktonic and biofilm circumstances is examined here with stochastic as well as deterministic models. The stochastic model is formulated with the Chemical Master Equation (CME) for planktonic cells and Reaction-Diffusion Master Equation (RDME) for biofilm. The results show that although the deterministic model works well for the perfectly-mixed planktonic circumstance, it fails to predict the averaged behavior in the biofilm, a behavior that has come to be known as stochastic focusing. A notable finding from this work is that the interception of antagonistic feedback loops to signaling, accentuates stochastic focusing. Moreover, interestingly, increasing particle number of a control variable could lead to an even larger deviation. Intracellular stochasticity plays an important role in biofilm and we surmise by implications from the model, that cell populations may use it to minimize the influence from environmental fluctuation.
Project description:Quantitative biology relies on the construction of accurate mathematical models, yet the effectiveness of these models is often predicated on making simplifying approximations that allow for direct comparisons with available experimental data. The Michaelis-Menten (MM) approximation is widely used in both deterministic and discrete stochastic models of intracellular reaction networks, owing to the ubiquity of enzymatic activity in cellular processes and the clear biochemical interpretation of its parameters. However, it is not well understood how the approximation applies to the discrete stochastic case or how it extends to spatially inhomogeneous systems. We study the behaviour of the discrete stochastic MM approximation as a function of system size and show that significant errors can occur for small volumes, in comparison with a corresponding mass-action system. We then explore some consequences of these results for quantitative modelling. One consequence is that fluctuation-induced sensitivity, or stochastic focusing, can become highly exaggerated in models that make use of MM kinetics even if the approximations are excellent in a deterministic model. Another consequence is that spatial stochastic simulations based on the reaction-diffusion master equation can become highly inaccurate if the model contains MM terms.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Gillespie's stochastic simulation algorithm (SSA) for chemical reactions admits three kinds of elementary processes, namely, mass action reactions of 0th, 1st or 2nd order. All other types of reaction processes, for instance those containing non-integer kinetic orders or following other types of kinetic laws, are assumed to be convertible to one of the three elementary kinds, so that SSA can validly be applied. However, the conversion to elementary reactions is often difficult, if not impossible. Within deterministic contexts, a strategy of model reduction is often used. Such a reduction simplifies the actual system of reactions by merging or approximating intermediate steps and omitting reactants such as transient complexes. It would be valuable to adopt a similar reduction strategy to stochastic modelling. Indeed, efforts have been devoted to manipulating the chemical master equation (CME) in order to achieve a proper propensity function for a reduced stochastic system. However, manipulations of CME are almost always complicated, and successes have been limited to relative simple cases.<h4>Results</h4>We propose a rather general strategy for converting a deterministic process model into a corresponding stochastic model and characterize the mathematical connections between the two. The deterministic framework is assumed to be a generalized mass action system and the stochastic analogue is in the format of the chemical master equation. The analysis identifies situations: where a direct conversion is valid; where internal noise affecting the system needs to be taken into account; and where the propensity function must be mathematically adjusted. The conversion from deterministic to stochastic models is illustrated with several representative examples, including reversible reactions with feedback controls, Michaelis-Menten enzyme kinetics, a genetic regulatory motif, and stochastic focusing.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The construction of a stochastic model for a biochemical network requires the utilization of information associated with an equation-based model. The conversion strategy proposed here guides a model design process that ensures a valid transition between deterministic and stochastic models.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The importance of stochasticity in cellular processes having low number of molecules has resulted in the development of stochastic models such as chemical master equation. As in other modelling frameworks, the accompanying rate constants are important for the end-applications like analyzing system properties (e.g. robustness) or predicting the effects of genetic perturbations. Prior knowledge of kinetic constants is usually limited and the model identification routine typically includes parameter estimation from experimental data. Although the subject of parameter estimation is well-established for deterministic models, it is not yet routine for the chemical master equation. In addition, recent advances in measurement technology have made the quantification of genetic substrates possible to single molecular levels. Thus, the purpose of this work is to develop practical and effective methods for estimating kinetic model parameters in the chemical master equation and other stochastic models from single cell and cell population experimental data. RESULTS: Three parameter estimation methods are proposed based on the maximum likelihood and density function distance, including probability and cumulative density functions. Since stochastic models such as chemical master equations are typically solved using a Monte Carlo approach in which only a finite number of Monte Carlo realizations are computationally practical, specific considerations are given to account for the effect of finite sampling in the histogram binning of the state density functions. Applications to three practical case studies showed that while maximum likelihood method can effectively handle low replicate measurements, the density function distance methods, particularly the cumulative density function distance estimation, are more robust in estimating the parameters with consistently higher accuracy, even for systems showing multimodality. CONCLUSIONS: The parameter estimation methodologies described in this work have provided an effective and practical approach in the estimation of kinetic parameters of stochastic systems from either sparse or dense cell population data. Nevertheless, similar to kinetic parameter estimation in other modelling frameworks, not all parameters can be estimated accurately, which is a common problem arising from the lack of complete parameter identifiability from the available data.
Project description:Hybrid deterministic-stochastic methods provide an efficient alternative to a fully stochastic treatment of models which include components with disparate levels of stochasticity. However, general-purpose hybrid solvers for spatially resolved simulations of reaction-diffusion systems are not widely available. Here we describe fundamentals of a general-purpose spatial hybrid method. The method generates realizations of a spatially inhomogeneous hybrid system by appropriately integrating capabilities of a deterministic partial differential equation solver with a popular particle-based stochastic simulator, Smoldyn. Rigorous validation of the algorithm is detailed, using a simple model of calcium 'sparks' as a testbed. The solver is then applied to a deterministic-stochastic model of spontaneous emergence of cell polarity. The approach is general enough to be implemented within biologist-friendly software frameworks such as Virtual Cell.
Project description:Increasing the durability of crop resistance to plant pathogens is one of the key goals of virulence management. Despite the recognition of the importance of demographic and environmental stochasticity on the dynamics of an epidemic, their effects on the evolution of the pathogen and durability of resistance has not received attention. We formulated a stochastic epidemiological model, based on the Kramer-Moyal expansion of the Master Equation, to investigate how random fluctuations affect the dynamics of an epidemic and how these effects feed through to the evolution of the pathogen and durability of resistance. We focused on two hypotheses: firstly, a previous deterministic model has suggested that the effect of cropping ratio (the proportion of land area occupied by the resistant crop) on the durability of crop resistance is negligible. Increasing the cropping ratio increases the area of uninfected host, but the resistance is more rapidly broken; these two effects counteract each other. We tested the hypothesis that similar counteracting effects would occur when we take account of demographic stochasticity, but found that the durability does depend on the cropping ratio. Secondly, we tested whether a superimposed external source of stochasticity (for example due to environmental variation or to intermittent fungicide application) interacts with the intrinsic demographic fluctuations and how such interaction affects the durability of resistance. We show that in the pathosystem considered here, in general large stochastic fluctuations in epidemics enhance extinction of the pathogen. This is more likely to occur at large cropping ratios and for particular frequencies of the periodic external perturbation (stochastic resonance). The results suggest possible disease control practises by exploiting the natural sources of stochasticity.
Project description:The cellular behaviors under the control of genetic circuits are subject to stochastic fluctuations, or noise. The stochasticity in gene regulation, far from a nuisance, has been gradually appreciated for its unusual function in cellular activities. In this work, with Chemical Master Equation (CME), we discovered that the addition of inhibitors altered the stochasticity of regulatory proteins. For a bistable system of a mutually inhibitory network, such a change of noise led to the migration of cells in the bimodal distribution. We proposed that the consumption of regulatory protein caused by the addition of inhibitor is not the only reason for pushing cells to the specific state; the change of the intracellular stochasticity is also the main cause for the redistribution. For the level of the inhibitor capable of driving 99% of cells, if there is no consumption of regulatory protein, 88% of cells were guided to the specific state. It implied that cells were pushed, by the inhibitor, to the specific state due to the change of stochasticity.
Project description:When gene regulatory networks operate in regimes where the number of protein molecules is so small that the molecular species are on the verge of extinction, the death and resurrection of the species greatly modifies the attractor landscape. Deterministic models and the diffusion approximation to the master equation break down at the limits of protein populations in a way very analogous to the breakdown of geometrical optics that occurs at distances <1 wavelength of light from edges. Stable stochastic attractors arise from extinction and resurrection events that are not predicted by the deterministic description. With this view, we explore the attractors of the regular toggle switch and the exclusive switch, focusing on the effects of cooperative binding and the production of protein in bursts. Our arguments suggest that the stability of lysogeny in the lambda-phage may be influenced by such extinction phenomena.
Project description:Altered ecosystem variability is an important ecological response to disturbance yet understanding of how various attributes of disturbance regimes affect ecosystem variability is limited. To improve the framework for understanding the disturbance regime attributes that affect ecosystem variability, we examine how the introduction of stochasticity to disturbance parameters (frequency, severity and extent) alters simulated recovery when compared to deterministic outcomes from a spatially explicit simulation model. We also examine the agreement between results from empirical studies and deterministic and stochastic configurations of the model. We find that stochasticity in disturbance frequency and spatial extent leads to the greatest increase in the variance of simulated dynamics, although stochastic severity also contributes to departures from the deterministic case. The incorporation of stochasticity in disturbance attributes improves agreement between empirical and simulated responses, with 71% of empirical responses correctly classified by stochastic configurations of the model as compared to 47% using the purely deterministic model. By comparison, only 2% of empirical responses were correctly classified by the deterministic model and misclassified by stochastic configurations of the model. These results indicate that stochasticity in the attributes of a disturbance regime alters the patterns and classification of ecosystem variability, suggesting altered recovery dynamics. Incorporating stochastic disturbance processes into models may thus be critical for anticipating the ecological resilience of ecosystems.
Project description:For cellular biochemical reaction systems where the numbers of molecules is small, significant noise is associated with chemical reaction events. This molecular noise can give rise to behavior that is very different from the predictions of deterministic rate equation models. Unfortunately, there are few analytic methods for examining the qualitative behavior of stochastic systems. Here we describe such a method that extends deterministic analysis to include leading-order corrections due to the molecular noise. The method allows the steady-state behavior of the stochastic model to be easily computed, facilitates the mapping of stability phase diagrams that include stochastic effects, and reveals how model parameters affect noise susceptibility in a manner not accessible to numerical simulation. By way of illustration we consider two genetic circuits: a bistable positive-feedback loop and a negative-feedback oscillator. We find in the positive feedback circuit that translational activation leads to a far more stable system than transcriptional control. Conversely, in a negative-feedback loop triggered by a positive-feedback switch, the stochasticity of transcriptional control is harnessed to generate reproducible oscillations.
Project description:Understanding the community assembly mechanisms controlling biodiversity patterns is a central issue in ecology. Although it is generally accepted that both deterministic and stochastic processes play important roles in community assembly, quantifying their relative importance is challenging. Here we propose a general mathematical framework to quantify ecological stochasticity under different situations in which deterministic factors drive the communities more similar or dissimilar than null expectation. An index, normalized stochasticity ratio (<i>NST</i>), was developed with 50% as the boundary point between more deterministic (<50%) and more stochastic (>50%) assembly. <i>NST</i> was tested with simulated communities by considering abiotic filtering, competition, environmental noise, and spatial scales. All tested approaches showed limited performance at large spatial scales or under very high environmental noise. However, in all of the other simulated scenarios, <i>NST</i> showed high accuracy (0.90 to 1.00) and precision (0.91 to 0.99), with averages of 0.37 higher accuracy (0.1 to 0.7) and 0.33 higher precision (0.0 to 1.8) than previous approaches. <i>NST</i> was also applied to estimate stochasticity in the succession of a groundwater microbial community in response to organic carbon (vegetable oil) injection. Our results showed that community assembly was shifted from more deterministic (<i>NST</i> = 21%) to more stochastic (<i>NST</i> = 70%) right after organic carbon input. As the vegetable oil was consumed, the community gradually returned to be more deterministic (<i>NST</i> = 27%). In addition, our results demonstrated that null model algorithms and community similarity metrics had strong effects on quantifying ecological stochasticity.