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Open Access Research article

Modeling cardiac β-adrenergic signaling with normalized-Hill differential equations: comparison with a biochemical model

Matthew J Kraeutler, Anthony R Soltis and Jeffrey J Saucerman*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA

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BMC Systems Biology 2010, 4:157  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-157

Published: 18 November 2010

Abstract

Background

New approaches are needed for large-scale predictive modeling of cellular signaling networks. While mass action and enzyme kinetic approaches require extensive biochemical data, current logic-based approaches are used primarily for qualitative predictions and have lacked direct quantitative comparison with biochemical models.

Results

We developed a logic-based differential equation modeling approach for cell signaling networks based on normalized Hill activation/inhibition functions controlled by logical AND and OR operators to characterize signaling crosstalk. Using this approach, we modeled the cardiac β1-adrenergic signaling network, including 36 reactions and 25 species. Direct comparison of this model to an extensively characterized and validated biochemical model of the same network revealed that the new model gave reasonably accurate predictions of key network properties, even with default parameters. Normalized Hill functions improved quantitative predictions of global functional relationships compared with prior logic-based approaches. Comprehensive sensitivity analysis revealed the significant role of PKA negative feedback on upstream signaling and the importance of phosphodiesterases as key negative regulators of the network. The model was then extended to incorporate recently identified protein interaction data involving integrin-mediated mechanotransduction.

Conclusions

The normalized-Hill differential equation modeling approach allows quantitative prediction of network functional relationships and dynamics, even in systems with limited biochemical data.