Hybrid modeling and analysis of multiscale biochemical reaction networks
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This dissertation addresses the development of integrative modeling strategies capable of combining deterministic and stochastic, discrete and continuous, as well as multi-scale features. The first set of studies combines the purely deterministic modeling methodology of Biochemical Systems Theory (BST) with a hybrid approach, using Functional Petri Nets, which permits the account of discrete features or events, stochasticity, and different types of delays. The efficiency and significance of this combination is demonstrated with several examples, including generic biochemical networks with feedback controls, gene regulatory modules, and dopamine based neuronal signal transduction. A study expanding the use of stochasticity toward systems with small numbers of molecules proposes a rather general strategy for converting a deterministic process model into a corresponding stochastic model. The strategy characterizes the mathematical connection between a stochastic framework and the deterministic analog. The deterministic framework is assumed to be a generalized mass action system and the stochastic analogue is in the format of the chemical master equation. The analysis identifies situations where internal noise affecting the system needs to be taken into account for a valid conversion from a deterministic to a stochastic model. The conversion procedure is illustrated with several representative examples, including elemental reactions, Michaelis-Menten enzyme kinetics, a genetic regulatory motif, and stochastic focusing. The last study establishes two novel, particle-based methods to simulate biochemical diffusion-reaction systems within crowded environments. These simulation methods effectively simulate and quantify crowding effects, including reduced reaction volumes, reduced diffusion rates, and reduced accessibility between potentially reacting particles. The proposed methods account for fractal-like kinetics, where the reaction rate depends on the local concentrations of the molecules undergoing the reaction. Rooted in an agent based modeling framework, this aspect of the methods offers the capacity to address sophisticated intracellular spatial effects, such as macromolecular crowding, active transport along cytoskeleton structures, and reactions on heterogeneous surfaces, as well as in porous media. Taken together, the work in this dissertation successfully developed theories and simulation methods which extend the deterministic, continuous framework of Biochemical Systems Theory to allow the account of delays, stochasticity, discrete features or events, and spatial effects for the modeling of biological systems, which are hybrid and multiscale by nature.