Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is caused by inactivating mutations in either TSC1 or TSC2 and is characterized by uncontrolled mTORC1 activation. Drugs that reduce mTOR activity are only partially successful in the treatment of TSC, suggesting that mTOR-independent pathways play a role in disease development. Here, kinome profiles of wild-type and Tsc2−/− mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) were generated, revealing a prominent role for PAK2 in signal transduction downstream of TSC1/2. Further investigation showed that the effect of the TSC1/2 complex on PAK2 is mediated through RHEB, but is independent of mTOR and p21RAC. We also demonstrated that PAK2 over-activation is likely responsible for the migratory and cell cycle abnormalities observed in Tsc2−/− MEFs. Finally, we detected high levels of PAK2 activation in giant cells in the brains of TSC patients. These results show that PAK2 is a direct effector of TSC1-TSC2-RHEB signaling and a new target for rational drug therapy in TSC.
BackgroundComputational support is essential in order to reason on the dynamics of biological systems. We have developed the software tool ANIMO (Analysis of Networks with Interactive MOdeling) to provide such computational support and allow insight into the complex networks of signaling events occurring in living cells. ANIMO makes use of timed automata as an underlying model, thereby enabling analysis techniques from computer science like model checking. Biology experts are able to use ANIMO via a user interface specifically tailored for biological applications. In this paper we compare the use of ANIMO with some established formalisms on two case studies.ResultsANIMO is a powerful and user-friendly tool that can compete with existing continuous and discrete paradigms. We show this by presenting ANIMO models for two case studies: Drosophila melanogaster circadian clock, and signal transduction events downstream of TNF α and EGF in HT-29 human colon carcinoma cells. The models were originally developed with ODEs and fuzzy logic, respectively.ConclusionsTwo biological case studies that have been modeled with respectively ODE and fuzzy logic models can be conveniently modeled using ANIMO. The ANIMO models require less parameters than ODEs and are more precise than fuzzy logic. For this reason we position the modelling paradigm of ANIMO between ODEs and fuzzy logic.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12918-016-0286-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Living cells are constantly subjected to a plethora of environmental stimuli that require integration into an appropriate cellular response. This integration takes place through signal transduction events that form tightly interconnected networks. The understanding of these networks requires capturing their dynamics through computational support and models. ANIMO (analysis of Networks with Interactive Modeling) is a tool that enables the construction and exploration of executable models of biological networks, helping to derive hypotheses and to plan wet-lab experiments. The tool is based on the formalism of Timed Automata, which can be analyzed via the UPPAAL model checker. Thanks to Timed Automata, we can provide a formal semantics for the domain-specific language used to represent signaling networks. This enforces precision and uniformity in the definition of signaling pathways, contributing to the integration of isolated signaling events into complex network models. We propose an approach to discretization of reaction kinetics that allows us to efficiently use UPPAAL as the computational engine to explore the dynamic behavior of the network of interest. A user-friendly interface hides the use of Timed Automata from the user, while keeping the expressive power intact. Abstraction to single-parameter kinetics speeds up construction of models that remain faithful enough to provide meaningful insight. The resulting dynamic behavior of the network components is displayed graphically, allowing for an intuitive and interactive modeling experience.
ANIMO (Analysis of Networks with Interactive MOdeling) is a software for
modeling biological networks, such as e.g. signaling, metabolic or gene
networks. An ANIMO model is essentially the sum of a network topology and a
number of interaction parameters. The topology describes the interactions
between biological entities in form of a graph, while the parameters determine
the speed of occurrence of such interactions. When a mismatch is observed
between the behavior of an ANIMO model and experimental data, we want to update
the model so that it explains the new data. In general, the topology of a model
can be expanded with new (known or hypothetical) nodes, and enables it to match
experimental data. However, the unrestrained addition of new parts to a model
causes two problems: models can become too complex too fast, to the point of
being intractable, and too many parts marked as "hypothetical" or "not known"
make a model unrealistic. Even if changing the topology is normally the easier
task, these problems push us to try a better parameter fit as a first step, and
resort to modifying the model topology only as a last resource. In this paper
we show the support added in ANIMO to ease the task of expanding the knowledge
on biological networks, concentrating in particular on the parameter settings
scite is a Brooklyn-based organization that helps researchers better discover and understand research articles through Smart Citations–citations that display the context of the citation and describe whether the article provides supporting or contrasting evidence. scite is used by students and researchers from around the world and is funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.