Objective Whole-cell (WC) modeling is a promising tool for biological research, bioengineering, and medicine. However, substantial work remains to create accurate, comprehensive models of complex cells. Methods We organized the 2015 Whole-Cell Modeling Summer School to teach WC modeling and evaluate the need for new WC modeling standards and software by recoding a recently published WC model in SBML. Results Our analysis revealed several challenges to representing WC models using the current standards. Conclusion We, therefore, propose several new WC modeling standards, software, and databases. Significance We anticipate that these new standards and software will enable more comprehensive models.
The considerable difficulty encountered in reproducing the results of published dynamical models limits validation, exploration and reuse of this increasingly large biomedical research resource. To address this problem, we have developed Tellurium Notebook, a software system for model authoring, simulation, and teaching that facilitates building reproducible dynamical models and reusing models by 1) providing a notebook environment which allows models, Python code, and narrative to be intermixed, 2) supporting the COMBINE archive format during model development for capturing model information in an exchangeable format and 3) enabling users to easily simulate and edit public COMBINE-compliant models from public repositories to facilitate studying model dynamics, variants and test cases. Tellurium Notebook, a Python–based Jupyter–like environment, is designed to seamlessly inter-operate with these community standards by automating conversion between COMBINE standards formulations and corresponding in–line, human–readable representations. Thus, Tellurium brings to systems biology the strategy used by other literate notebook systems such as Mathematica. These capabilities allow users to edit every aspect of the standards–compliant models and simulations, run the simulations in–line, and re–export to standard formats. We provide several use cases illustrating the advantages of our approach and how it allows development and reuse of models without requiring technical knowledge of standards. Adoption of Tellurium should accelerate model development, reproducibility and reuse.
Objective Reproducibility is the cornerstone of the scientific method. However, currently, many systems biology models cannot easily be reproduced. This paper presents methods that address this problem. Methods We analyzed the recent Mycoplasma genitalium whole-cell (WC) model to determine the requirements for reproducible modeling. Results We determined that reproducible modeling requires both repeatable model building and repeatable simulation. Conclusion New standards and simulation software tools are needed to enhance and verify the reproducibility of modeling. New standards are needed to explicitly document every data source and assumption, and new deterministic parallel simulation tools are needed to quickly simulate large, complex models. Significance We anticipate that these new standards and software will enable researchers to reproducibly build and simulate more complex models, including WC models.
Synthetic biology was founded as a biophysical discipline that sought explanations for the origins of life from chemical and physical first principles. Modern synthetic biology has been reinvented as an engineering discipline to design new organisms as well as to better understand fundamental biological mechanisms. However, success is still largely limited to the laboratory and transformative applications of synthetic biology are still in their infancy. Here, we review six principles of living systems and how they compare and contrast with engineered systems. We cite specific examples from the synthetic biology literature that illustrate these principles and speculate on their implications for further study. To fully realize the promise of synthetic biology, we must be aware of life's unique properties.
In this article, we present Tellurium, a powerful Python-based integrated environment designed for model building, analysis, simulation and reproducibility in systems and synthetic biology. Tellurium is a modular, cross-platform, and open-source integrated development environment (IDE) composed of multiple libraries, plugins, and specialized modules and methods. Tellurium ensures exchangeability and reproducibility of computational models by supporting SBML (Systems Biology Markup Language), SED-ML (Simulation Experiment Description Markup Language), the COMBINE archive, and SBOL (Synthetic Biology Open Language). Tellurium is a self-contained modeling platform which comes with a fully configured Python distribution independent of other local Python installations on the target machine. The main interface is based on the Spyder IDE which has a highly accessible user interface akin to MATLAB (https://www.mathworks.com/). Tellurium uses libRoadRunner as the default SBML simulation engine due to its superior performance, scalability and ease of integration. libRoadRunner supports deterministic simulations, stochastic simulations and steady state analyses. Tellurium also includes Antimony, a human-readable model definition language which can be converted to and from SBML. Other standard Python scientific libraries such as NumPy, SciPy, and matplotlib are included by default. Additionally, we include several user-friendly plugins and advanced modules for a wide-variety of applications, ranging from visualization tools to complex algorithms for bifurcation analysis and multidimensional parameter scanning. By combining multiple libraries, plugins, and modules into a single package, Tellurium provides a unified but extensible solution for biological modeling and simulation.
Summary:In this technical report we describe a simple extension to python-libSBML that allows users of Python to more easily construct SBML based models. The most commonly used package for constructing SBML models in Python is python-libSBML based on the C/C++ library libSBML. python-libSBML supports a comprehensive set of model types, but is difficult for new users to learn and requires long scripts to create even the simplest models. We present SimpleSBML, a package that allows users to add species, parameters, reactions, events, and rules to a libSBML model with only one command for each. Models can be exported to SBML format, and SBML files can be imported and converted to SimpleSBML commands that creates each element in a new model. This allows users to create new models and edit existing models for use with other software.
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