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Open Access Research article

Host-pathogen systems biology: logical modelling of hepatocyte growth factor and Helicobacter pylori induced c-Met signal transduction

Raimo Franke1, Melanie Müller1, Nicole Wundrack1, Ernst-Dieter Gilles2, Steffen Klamt2, Thilo Kähne1 and Michael Naumann1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Experimental Internal Medicine, Otto von Guericke University, Leipziger Str. 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany

2 Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems, Sandtorstrasse 1, 39106 Magdeburg, Germany

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BMC Systems Biology 2008, 2:4  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-2-4

Published: 14 January 2008

Abstract

Background

The hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) stimulates mitogenesis, motogenesis, and morphogenesis in a wide range of tissues, including epithelial cells, on binding to the receptor tyrosine kinase c-Met. Abnormal c-Met signalling contributes to tumour genesis, in particular to the development of invasive and metastatic phenotypes. The human microbial pathogen Helicobacter pylori can induce chronic gastritis, peptic ulceration and more rarely, gastric adenocarcinoma. The H. pylori effector protein cytotoxin associated gene A (CagA), which is translocated via a type IV secretion system (T4SS) into epithelial cells, intracellularly modulates the c-Met receptor and promotes cellular processes leading to cell scattering, which could contribute to the invasiveness of tumour cells. Using a logical modelling framework, the presented work aims at analysing the c-Met signal transduction network and how it is interfered by H. pylori infection, which might be of importance for tumour development.

Results

A logical model of HGF and H. pylori induced c-Met signal transduction is presented in this work. The formalism of logical interaction hypergraphs (LIH) was used to construct the network model. The molecular interactions included in the model were all assembled manually based on a careful meta-analysis of published experimental results. Our model reveals the differences and commonalities of the response of the network upon HGF and H. pylori induced c-Met signalling. As another important result, using the formalism of minimal intervention sets, phospholipase Cγ1 (PLCγ1) was identified as knockout target for repressing the activation of the extracellular signal regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), a signalling molecule directly linked to cell scattering in H. pylori infected cells. The model predicted only an effect on ERK1/2 for the H. pylori stimulus, but not for HGF treatment. This result could be confirmed experimentally in MDCK cells using a specific pharmacological inhibitor against PLCγ1. The in silico predictions for the knockout of two other network components were also verified experimentally.

Conclusion

This work represents one of the first approaches in the direction of host-pathogen systems biology aiming at deciphering signalling changes brought about by pathogenic bacteria. The suitability of our network model is demonstrated by an in silico prediction of a relevant target against pathogen infection.