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Open Access Software

GridCell: a stochastic particle-based biological system simulator

Laurier Boulianne1, Sevin Al Assaad1, Michel Dumontier2 and Warren J Gross1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, QC, H3A 2A7, Canada

2 Department of Biology, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6, Canada

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BMC Systems Biology 2008, 2:66  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-2-66

Published: 23 July 2008

Abstract

Background

Realistic biochemical simulators aim to improve our understanding of many biological processes that would be otherwise very difficult to monitor in experimental studies. Increasingly accurate simulators may provide insights into the regulation of biological processes due to stochastic or spatial effects.

Results

We have developed GridCell as a three-dimensional simulation environment for investigating the behaviour of biochemical networks under a variety of spatial influences including crowding, recruitment and localization. GridCell enables the tracking and characterization of individual particles, leading to insights on the behaviour of low copy number molecules participating in signaling networks. The simulation space is divided into a discrete 3D grid that provides ideal support for particle collisions without distance calculation and particle search. SBML support enables existing networks to be simulated and visualized. The user interface provides intuitive navigation that facilitates insights into species behaviour across spatial and temporal dimensions. We demonstrate the effect of crowing on a Michaelis-Menten system.

Conclusion

GridCell is an effective stochastic particle simulator designed to track the progress of individual particles in a three-dimensional space in which spatial influences such as crowding, co-localization and recruitment may be investigated.