Dynamical analysis of cellular ageing by modeling of gene regulatory network based attractor landscape
Chong, Ket Hing
Date of Issue2018
School of Computer Science and Engineering
Biomedical Informatics Lab
Ageing is a natural phenomenon that is inherently complex and remains a mystery. Conceptual model of cellular ageing landscape was proposed for computational studies of ageing. However, there is a lack of quantitative model of cellular ageing landscape. This study aims to investigate the mechanism of cellular ageing in a theoretical model using the framework of Waddington’s epigenetic landscape. We construct an ageing gene regulatory network (GRN) consisting of the core cell cycle regulatory genes (including p53). A model parameter (activation rate) is used as a measure of the accumulation of DNA damage. Using the bifurcation diagrams to estimate the parameter values that lead to multi-stability, we obtained a conceptual model for capturing three distinct stable steady states (or attractors) corresponding to homeostasis, cell cycle arrest, and senescence or apoptosis. In addition, we applied a Monte Carlo computational method to quantify the potential landscape, which displays: I) one homeostasis attractor for low accumulation of DNA damage; II) two attractors for cell cycle arrest and senescence (or apoptosis) in response to high accumulation of DNA damage. Using the Waddington’s epigenetic landscape framework, the process of ageing can be characterized by state transitions from landscape I to II. By in silico perturbations, we identified the potential landscape of a perturbed network (inactivation of p53), and thereby demonstrated the emergence of a cancer attractor. The simulated dynamics of the perturbed network displays a landscape with four basins of attraction: homeostasis, cell cycle arrest, senescence (or apoptosis) and cancer. Our analysis also showed that for the same perturbed network with low DNA damage, the landscape displays only the homeostasis attractor. The mechanistic model offers theoretical insights that can facilitate discovery of potential strategies for network medicine of ageing-related diseases such as cancer.
© 2018 Chong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.