Background: The lack of detailed understanding of the mechanism of action of many biowarfare agents poses an immediate challenge to biodefense efforts. Many potential bioweapons have been shown to affect the cellular pathways controlling apoptosis [1-4]. For example, pathogen-produced exotoxins such as Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) and Anthrax Lethal Factor (LF) have been shown to disrupt the Fas-mediated apoptotic pathway [2,4] . To evaluate how these agents affect these pathways it is first necessary to understand the dynamics of a normally functioning apoptosis network. This can then serve as a baseline against which a pathogen perturbed system can be compared. Such comparisons can expose both the proteins most susceptible to alteration by the agent as well as the most critical reaction rates to better instill control on a biological network. Results: We explore this through the modeling and simulation of the Fas-mediated apoptotic pathway under normal and SEB influenced conditions. We stimulated human Jurkat cells with an anti-Fas antibody in the presence and absence of SEB and determined the relative levels of seven proteins involved in the core pathway at five time points following exposure. These levels were used to impute relative rate constants and build a quantitative model consisting of a series of ordinary differential equations (ODEs) that simulate the network under both normal and pathogen-influenced conditions. Experimental results show that cells exposed to SEB exhibit an increase in the rate of executioner caspase expression (and subsequently apoptosis) of 1 hour 43 minutes (± 14 minutes), as compared to cells undergoing normal cell death. Conclusion: Our model accurately reflects these results and reveals intervention points that can be altered to restore SEB-influenced system dynamics back to levels within the range of normal conditions. © 2006 Higgs et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Higgs, B. W., Dileo, J., Chang, W. E., Smith, H. B., Peters, O. J., Hammamieh, R., … Feidler, J. C. (2006). Modeling the effects of a Staphylococcal Enterotoxin B (SEB) on the apoptosis pathway. BMC Microbiology, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2180-6-48