Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Systems Biology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Towards a quantitative understanding of the MITF-PIAS3-STAT3 connection

Josef Thingnes1*, Timothy J Lavelle3, Arne B Gjuvsland1, Stig W Omholt2 and Eivind Hovig345

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE), Department of Mathematical Sciences and Technology, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 1430 Ås, Norway

2 Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE), Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 1430 Ås, Norway

3 Department of Tumor Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, PO Box 4950 Nydalen, 0424 Oslo, Norway

4 Institute of Medical Informatics, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, Montebello, PO Box 4950 Nydalen, 0424 Oslo, Norway

5 Institute of Informatics, The Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, University of Oslo, Postboks 1080, Blindern, 0316 OSLO, Norway

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Systems Biology 2012, 6:11  doi:10.1186/1752-0509-6-11

Published: 8 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Expression of the two transcription factors microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (MITF) and signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) are tightly connected to cell proliferation and survival, and are important for melanocyte development. The co-regulation of MITF and STAT3 via their binding to a common inhibitor Protein Inhibitor of Activated STAT3 (PIAS3) is intriguing. A better quantitative understanding of this regulation is likely to be important for elucidation of the melanocyte biology.

Results

We present a mathematical model describing the MITF-PIAS3-STAT3 signalling network. A default parameter set was developed, partly informed by the literature and partly by constraining the model to mimic reported behavioural features of the system. In addition, a set of experiment-specific parameters was derived for each of 28 experiments reported in the literature. The model seems capable of accounting for most of these experiments in terms of observed temporal development of protein amounts and phosphorylation states. Further, the results also suggest that this system possesses some regulatory features yet to be elucidated.

Conclusions

We find that the experimentally observed crosstalk between MITF and STAT3 via PIAS3 in melanocytes is faithfully reproduced in our model, offering mechanistic explanations for this behaviour, as well as providing a scaffold for further studies of MITF signalling in melanoma.