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Publications of Eduardo D. Sontag jointly with M.A. Al-Radhawi
Articles in journal or book chapters
  1. M. A. Al-Radhawi, D. Del Vecchio, and E. D. Sontag. Multi-modality in gene regulatory networks with slow gene binding. PLoS Computational Biology, 15:e1006784, 2019. [PDF] Keyword(s): multistability, gene networks, Markov Chains, Master Equation, cancer heterogeneity, phenotypic variation, nonlinear systems, stochastic models, epigenetics.
    Abstract:
    In biological processes such as embryonic development, hematopoietic cell differentiation, and the arising of tumor heterogeneity and consequent resistance to therapy, mechanisms of gene activation and deactivation may play a role in the emergence of phenotypically heterogeneous yet genetically identical (clonal) cellular populations. Mathematically, the variability in phenotypes in the absence of genetic variation can be modeled through the existence of multiple metastable attractors in nonlinear systems subject with stochastic switching, each one of them associated to an alternative epigenetic state. An important theoretical and practical question is that of estimating the number and location of these states, as well as their relative probabilities of occurrence. This paper focuses on a rigorous analytic characterization of multiple modes under slow promoter kinetics, which is a feature of epigenetic regulation. It characterizes the stationary distributions of Chemical Master Equations for gene regulatory networks as a mixture of Poisson distributions. As illustrations, the theory is used to tease out the role of cooperative binding in stochastic models in comparison to deterministic models, and applications are given to various model systems, such as toggle switches in isolation or in communicating populations and a trans-differentiation network.


Conference articles
  1. S. Bruno, M.A. Al-Radhawi, E.D. Sontag, and D. Del Vecchio. Stochastic analysis of genetic feedback controllers to reprogram a pluripotency gene regulatory network. In Proc. 2019 Automatic Control Conference, 2019. Note: To appear.Keyword(s): multistability, biochemical networks, systems biology, stochastic systems, cell differentiation, multistationarity.
    Abstract:
    Cellular reprogramming is traditionally accomplished through an open loop control approach, wherein key transcription factors are injected in cells to steer a gene regulatory network toward a pluripotent state. Recently, a closed loop feedback control strategy was proposed in order to achieve more accurate control. Previous analyses of the controller were based on deterministic models, ignoring the substantial stochasticity in these networks, Here we analyze the Chemical Master Equation for reaction models with and without the feedback controller. We computationally and analytically investigate the performance of the controller in biologically relevant parameter regimes where stochastic effects dictate system dynamics. Our results indicate that the feedback control approach still ensures reprogramming even when analyzed using a stochastic model.


  2. M.A. Al-Radhawi, N.S. Kumar, E.D. Sontag, and D. Del Vecchio. Stochastic multistationarity in a model of the hematopoietic stem cell differentiation network. In Proc. 2018 IEEE Conf. Decision and Control, pages 1886-1892, 2018. [PDF] Keyword(s): multistability, biochemical networks, systems biology, stochastic systems, cell differentiation, multistationarity.
    Abstract:
    In the mathematical modeling of cell differentiation, it is common to think of internal states of cells (quanfitied by activation levels of certain genes) as determining different cell types. We study here the "PU.1/GATA-1 circuit" that controls the development of mature blood cells from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). We introduce a rigorous chemical reaction network model of the PU.1/GATA-1 circuit, which incorporates current biological knowledge and find that the resulting ODE model of these biomolecular reactions is incapable of exhibiting multistability, contradicting the fact that differentiation networks have, by definition, alternative stable steady states. When considering instead the stochastic version of this chemical network, we analytically construct the stationary distribution, and are able to show that this distribution is indeed capable of admitting a multiplicity of modes. Finally, we study how a judicious choice of system parameters serves to bias the probabilities towards different stationary states. We remark that certain changes in system parameters can be physically implemented by a biological feedback mechanism; tuning this feedback gives extra degrees of freedom that allow one to assign higher likelihood to some cell types over others.


Internal reports
  1. M. Sadeghi, M.A. Al-Radhawi, M. Margaliot, and E.D. Sontag. On the periodic gain of the Ribosome Flow Model. Technical report, bioRxiv 2018/507988, 2018. [PDF] Keyword(s): systems biology, biochemical networks, ribosomes, RFM.
    Abstract:
    We consider a compartmental model for ribosome flow during RNA translation, the Ribosome Flow Model (RFM). This model includes a set of positive transition rates that control the flow from every site to the consecutive site. It has been shown that when these rates are time-varying and jointly T-periodic, the protein production rate converges to a unique T-periodic pattern. Here, we study a problem that can be roughly stated as: can periodic rates yield a higher average production rate than constant rates? We rigorously formulate this question and show via simulations, and rigorous analysis in one simple case, that the answer is no.



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Last modified: Thu Apr 11 22:06:19 2019
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