Publications about 'optimization' |
Articles in journal or book chapters |
Cells respond to biochemical and physical internal as well as external signals. These signals can be broadly classified into two categories: (a) ``actionable'' or ``reference'' inputs that should elicit appropriate biological or physical responses such as gene expression or motility, and (b) ``disturbances'' or ``perturbations'' that should be ignored or actively filtered-out. These disturbances might be exogenous, such as binding of nonspecific ligands, or endogenous, such as variations in enzyme concentrations or gene copy numbers. In this context, the term robustness describes the capability to produce appropriate responses to reference inputs while at the same time being insensitive to disturbances. These two objectives often conflict with each other and require delicate design trade-offs. Indeed, natural biological systems use complicated and still poorly understood control strategies in order to finely balance the goals of responsiveness and robustness. A better understanding of such natural strategies remains an important scientific goal in itself and will play a role in the construction of synthetic circuits for therapeutic and biosensing applications. A prototype problem in robustly responding to inputs is that of ``robust tracking'', defined by the requirement that some designated internal quantity (for example, the level of expression of a reporter protein) should faithfully follow an input signal while being insensitive to an appropriate class of perturbations. Control theory predicts that a certain type of motif, called integral feedback, will help achieve this goal, and this motif is, in fact, a necessary feature of any system that exhibits robust tracking. Indeed, integral feedback has always been a key component of electrical and mechanical control systems, at least since the 18th century when James Watt employed the centrifugal governor to regulate steam engines. Motivated by this knowledge, biological engineers have proposed various designs for biomolecular integral feedback control mechanisms. However, practical and quantitatively predictable implementations have proved challenging, in part due to the difficulty in obtaining accurate models of transcription, translation, and resource competition in living cells, and the stochasticity inherent in cellular reactions. These challenges prevent first-principles rational design and parameter optimization. In this work, we exploit the versatility of an Escherichia coli cell-free transcription-translation (TXTL) to accurately design, model and then build, a synthetic biomolecular integral controller that precisely controls the expression of a target gene. To our knowledge, this is the first design of a functioning gene network that achieves the goal of making gene expression track an externally imposed reference level, achieves this goal even in the presence of disturbances, and whose performance quantitatively agrees with mathematical predictions. |
Understanding how dynamical responses of biological networks are constrained by underlying network topology is one of the fundamental goals of systems biology. Here we employ monotone systems theory to formulate a theorem stating necessary conditions for non-monotonic time-response of a biochemical network to a monotonic stimulus. We apply this theorem to analyze the non-monotonic dynamics of the sigmaB-regulated glyoxylate shunt gene expression in Mycobacterium tuberculosis cells exposed to hypoxia. We first demonstrate that the known network structure is inconsistent with observed dynamics. To resolve this inconsistency we employ the formulated theorem, modeling simulations and optimization along with follow-up dynamic experimental measurements. We show a requirement for post-translational modulation of sigmaB activity in order to reconcile the network dynamics with its topology. The results of this analysis make testable experimental predictions and demonstrate wider applicability of the developed methodology to a wide class of biological systems. |
Synthetic biology efforts have largely focused on small engineered gene networks, yet understanding how to integrate multiple synthetic modules and interface them with endogenous pathways remains a challenge. Here we present the design, system integration, and analysis of several large scale synthetic gene circuits for artificial tissue homeostasis. Diabetes therapy represents a possible application for engineered homeostasis, where genetically programmed stem cells maintain a steady population of beta-cells despite continuous turnover. We develop a new iterative process that incorporates modular design principles with hierarchical performance optimization targeted for environments with uncertainty and incomplete information. We employ theoretical analysis and computational simulations of multicellular reaction/diffusion models to design and understand system behavior, and find that certain features often associated with robustness (e.g., multicellular synchronization and noise attenuation) are actually detrimental for tissue homeostasis. We overcome these problems by engineering a new class of genetic modules for 'synthetic cellular heterogeneity' that function to generate beneficial population diversity. We design two such modules (an asynchronous genetic oscillator and a signaling throttle mechanism), demonstrate their capacity for enhancing robust control, and provide guidance for experimental implementation with various computational techniques. We found that designing modules for synthetic heterogeneity can be complex, and in general requires a framework for non-linear and multifactorial analysis. Consequently, we adapt a 'phenotypic sensitivity analysis' method to determine how functional module behaviors combine to achieve optimal system performance. We ultimately combine this analysis with Bayesian network inference to extract critical, causal relationships between a module's biochemical rate-constants, its high level functional behavior in isolation, and its impact on overall system performance once integrated. |
This paper presents a software tool for inference and simplification of signal transduction networks. The method relies on the representation of observed indirect causal relationships as network paths, using techniques from combinatorial optimization to find the sparsest graph consistent with all experimental observations. We illustrate the biological usability of our software by applying it to a previously published signal transduction network and by using it to synthesize and simplify a novel network corresponding to activation-induced cell death in large granular lymphocyte leukemia. |
This paper introduces a new method of combined synthesis and inference of biological signal transduction networks. The main idea lies in representing observed causal relationships as network paths, and using techniques from combinatorial optimization to find the sparsest graph consistent with all experimental observations. The paper formalizes the approach, studies its computational complexity, proves new results for exact and approximate solutions of the computationally hard transitive reduction substep of the approach, validates the biological applicability by applying it to a previously published signal transduction network by Li et al., and shows that the algorithm for the transitive reduction substep performs well on graphs with a structure similar to those observed in transcriptional regulatory and signal transduction networks. |
This paper investigates the problem of searching for a hidden target in a bounded region of the plane by an autonomous robot which is only able to use limited local sensory information. It proposes an aggregation-based approach to solve this problem, in which the continuous search space is partitioned into a finite collection of regions on which we define a discrete search problem and a solution to the original problem is obtained through a refinement procedure that lifts the discrete path into a continuous one. The resulting solution is in general not optimal but one can construct bounds to gauge the cost penalty incurred. The discrete version is formalized and an optimization problem is stated as a `reward-collecting' bounded-length path problem. NP-completeness and efficient approximation algorithms for various cases of this problem are discussed. |
This paper deals with sparse approximations by means of convex combinations of elements from a predetermined "basis" subset S of a function space. Specifically, the focus is on the rate at which the lowest achievable error can be reduced as larger subsets of S are allowed when constructing an approximant. The new results extend those given for Hilbert spaces by Jones and Barron, including in particular a computationally attractive incremental approximation scheme. Bounds are derived for broad classes of Banach spaces. The techniques used borrow from results regarding moduli of smoothness in functional analysis as well as from the theory of stochastic processes on function spaces. |
Conference articles |
Integral feedback can help achieve robust tracking independently of external disturbances. Motivated by this knowledge, biological engineers have proposed various designs of biomolecular integral feedback controllers to regulate biological processes. In this paper, we theoretically analyze the operation of a particular synthetic biomolecular integral controller, which we have recently proposed and implemented experimentally. Using a combination of methods, ranging from linearized analysis to sum-of-squares (SOS) Lyapunov functions, we demonstrate that, when the controller is operated in closed-loop, it is capable of providing integral corrections to the concentration of an output species in such a manner that the output tracks a reference signal linearly over a large dynamic range. We investigate the output dependency on the reaction parameters through sensitivity analysis, and quantify performance using control theory metrics to characterize response properties, thus providing clear selection guidelines for practical applications. We then demonstrate the stable operation of the closed-loop control system by constructing quartic Lyapunov functions using SOS optimization techniques, and establish global stability for a unique equilibrium. Our analysis suggests that by incorporating effective molecular sequestration, a biomolecular closed-loop integral controller that is capable of robustly regulating gene expression is feasible. |
We consider the problem of estimating a signal, which is known -- or assumed -- to be constant on each of the members of a partition of a square lattice into m unknown regions, from the observation of the signal plus Gaussian noise. This is a nonlinear estimation problem, for which it is not appropriate to use the conditional expectation as the estimate. We show that, at least in principle, the "maximum iikelihood estimator" (MLE) proposed by Geman and Geman lends itself to numerical computation using the annealing algorithm. We argue that the MLE by itself can be, under certain conditions (low signal to noise ratio), a very unsatisfactory estimator, in that it does worse than just deciding that the signal was zero. However, if combined with a rule which we propose, for deciding when to use and when to ignore it, the MLE can provide a reasonable suboptimal estimator. We then discuss preliminary numerical data obtained using the annealing method. These results indicate that: (a) the annealing algorithm performs remarkably well, and (b) a criterion can be formulated in terms of quantities computed from the observed image (without using a priori knowledge of the signal-to-noise ratio) for deciding when to keep the MLE. |
Internal reports |
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