Identification of control targets in Boolean molecular network models via computational algebra

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Motivation: Many problems in biomedicine and other areas of the life sciences can be characterized as control problems, with the goal of finding strategies to change a disease or otherwise undesirable state of a biological system into another, more desirable, state through an intervention, such as a drug or other therapeutic treatment. The identification of such strategies is typically based on a mathematical model of the process to be altered through targeted control inputs. This paper focuses on processes at the molecular level that determine the state of an individual cell, involving signaling or gene regulation. The mathematical model type considered is that of Boolean networks. The potential control targets can be represented by a set of nodes and edges that can be manipulated to produce a desired effect on the system. Experimentally, node manipulation requires technology to completely repress or fully activate a particular gene product while edge manipulations only require a drug that inactivates the interaction between two gene products. Results: This paper presents a method for the identification of potential intervention targets in Boolean molecular network models using algebraic techniques. The approach exploits an algebraic representation of Boolean networks to encode the control candidates in the network wiring diagram as the solutions of a system of polynomials equations, and then uses computational algebra techniques to find such controllers. The control methods in this paper are validated through the identification of combinatorial interventions in the signaling pathways of previously reported control targets in two well studied systems, a p53-mdm2 network and a blood T cell lymphocyte granular leukemia survival signaling network.




Murrugarra, D., Veliz-Cuba, A., Aguilar, B., & Laubenbacher, R. (2016). Identification of control targets in Boolean molecular network models via computational algebra. BMC Systems Biology, 10(1).

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