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  1. Abstract

    Drug combination discovery depends on reliable synergy metrics but no consensus exists on the correct synergy criterion to characterize combined interactions. The fragmented state of the field confounds analysis, impedes reproducibility, and delays clinical translation of potential combination treatments. Here we present a mass-action based formalism to quantify synergy. With this formalism, we clarify the relationship between the dominant drug synergy principles, and present a mapping of commonly used frameworks onto a unified synergy landscape. From this, we show how biases emerge due to intrinsic assumptions which hinder their broad applicability and impact the interpretation of synergy in discovery efforts. Specifically, we describe how traditional metrics mask consequential synergistic interactions, and contain biases dependent on the Hill-slope and maximal effect of single-drugs. We show how these biases systematically impact synergy classification in large combination screens, potentially misleading discovery efforts. Thus the proposed formalism can provide a consistent, unbiased interpretation of drug synergy, and accelerate the translatability of synergy studies.

  2. Saucerman, Jeffrey J. (Ed.)
    Modern analytical techniques enable researchers to collect data about cellular states, before and after perturbations. These states can be characterized using analytical techniques, but the inference of regulatory interactions that explain and predict changes in these states remains a challenge. Here we present a generalizable, unsupervised approach to generate parameter-free, logic-based models of cellular processes, described by multiple discrete states. Our algorithm employs a Hamming-distance based approach to formulate, test, and identify optimized logic rules that link two states. Our approach comprises two steps. First, a model with no prior knowledge except for the mapping between initial and attractor states is built. We then employ biological constraints to improve model fidelity. Our algorithm automatically recovers the relevant dynamics for the explored models and recapitulates key aspects of the biochemical species concentration dynamics in the original model. We present the advantages and limitations of our work and discuss how our approach could be used to infer logic-based mechanisms of signaling, gene-regulatory, or other input-output processes describable by the Boolean formalism.
  3. Abstract High-throughput cell proliferation assays to quantify drug-response are becoming increasingly common and powerful with the emergence of improved automation and multi-time point analysis methods. However, pipelines for analysis of these datasets that provide reproducible, efficient, and interactive visualization and interpretation are sorely lacking. To address this need, we introduce Thunor, an open-source software platform to manage, analyze, and visualize large, dose-dependent cell proliferation datasets. Thunor supports both end-point and time-based proliferation assays as input. It provides a simple, user-friendly interface with interactive plots and publication-quality images of cell proliferation time courses, dose–response curves, and derived dose–response metrics, e.g. IC50, including across datasets or grouped by tags. Tags are categorical labels for cell lines and drugs, used for aggregation, visualization and statistical analysis, e.g. cell line mutation or drug class/target pathway. A graphical plate map tool is included to facilitate plate annotation with cell lines, drugs and concentrations upon data upload. Datasets can be shared with other users via point-and-click access control. We demonstrate the utility of Thunor to examine and gain insight from two large drug response datasets: a large, publicly available cell viability database and an in-house, high-throughput proliferation rate dataset. Thunor is available from
  4. Mathematical models are often used to study the structure and dynamics of network-driven cellular processes. In cell biology, models representing biochemical reaction networks have provided significant insights but are often plagued by a dearth of available quantitative data necessary for simulation and analysis. This has in turn led to questions about the usefulness of biochemical network models with unidentifiable parameters and high-degree of parameter sloppiness. In response, approaches to incorporate highly-available non-quantitative data and use this data to improve model certainty have been undertaken with various degrees of success. Here we employ a Bayesian inference and Machine Learning approach to first explore how quantitative and non-quantitative data can constrain a mechanistic model of apoptosis execution, in which all models can be identified. We find that two orders of magnitude more ordinal data measurements than those typically collected are necessary to achieve the same accuracy as that obtained from a quantitative dataset. We also find that ordinal and nominal non-quantitative data on their own can be combined to reduce model uncertainty and thus improve model accuracy. Further analysis demonstrates that the accuracy and certainty of model predictions strongly depends on accurate formulations of the measurement as well as the size andmore »make-up of the nonquantitative datasets. Finally, we demonstrate the potential of a data-driven Machine Learning measurement model to identify informative mechanistic features that predict or define nonquantitative cellular phenotypes, from a systems perspective.« less
  5. Mathematical models of biomolecular networks are commonly used to study mechanisms of cellular processes, but their usefulness is often questioned due to parameter uncertainty. Here, we employ Bayesian parameter inference and dynamic network analysis to study dominant reaction fluxes in models of extrinsic apoptosis. Although a simplified model yields thousands of parameter vectors with equally good fits to data, execution modes based on reaction fluxes clusters to three dominant execution modes. A larger model with increased parameter uncertainty shows that signal flow is constrained to eleven execution modes that use 53 out of 2067 possible signal subnetworks. Each execution mode exhibits different behaviors to in silico perturbations, due to different signal execution mechanisms. Machine learning identifies informative parameters to guide experimental validation. Our work introduces a probability-based paradigm of signaling mechanisms, highlights systems-level interactions that modulate signal flow, and provides a methodology to understand mechanistic model predictions with uncertain parameters.