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See detailOptimization of logical networks for the modelling of cancer signalling pathways
De Landtsheer, Sébastien UL

Doctoral thesis (2019)

Cancer is one of the main causes of death throughout the world. The survival of patients diagnosed with various cancer types remains low despite the numerous progresses of the last decades. Some of the ... [more ▼]

Cancer is one of the main causes of death throughout the world. The survival of patients diagnosed with various cancer types remains low despite the numerous progresses of the last decades. Some of the reasons for this unmet clinical need are the high heterogeneity between patients, the differentiation of cancer cells within a single tumor, the persistence of cancer stem cells, and the high number of possible clinical phenotypes arising from the combination of the genetic and epigenetic insults that confer to cells the functional characteristics enabling them to proliferate, evade the immune system and programmed cell death, and give rise to neoplasms. To identify new therapeutic options, a better understanding of the mechanisms that generate and maintain these functional characteristics is needed. As many of the alterations that characterize cancerous lesions relate to the signaling pathways that ensure the adequacy of cellular behavior in a specific micro-environment and in response to molecular cues, it is likely that increased knowledge about these signaling pathways will result in the identification of new pharmacological targets towards which new drugs can be designed. As such, the modeling of the cellular regulatory networks can play a prominent role in this understanding, as computational modeling allows the integration of large quantities of data and the simulation of large systems. Logical modeling is well adapted to the large-scale modeling of regulatory networks. Different types of logical network modeling have been used successfully to study cancer signaling pathways and investigate specific hypotheses. In this work we propose a Dynamic Bayesian Network framework to contextualize network models of signaling pathways. We implemented FALCON, a Matlab toolbox to formulate the parametrization of a prior-knowledge interaction network given a set of biological measurements under different experimental conditions. The FALCON toolbox allows a systems-level analysis of the model with the aim of identifying the most sensitive nodes and interactions of the inferred regulatory network and point to possible ways to modify its functional properties. The resulting hypotheses can be tested in the form of virtual knock-out experiments. We also propose a series of regularization schemes, materializing biological assumptions, to incorporate relevant research questions in the optimization procedure. These questions include the detection of the active signaling pathways in a specific context, the identification of the most important differences within a group of cell lines, or the time-frame of network rewiring. We used the toolbox and its extensions on a series of toy models and biological examples. We showed that our pipeline is able to identify cell type-specific parameters that are predictive of drug sensitivity, using a regularization scheme based on local parameter densities in the parameter space. We applied FALCON to the analysis of the resistance mechanism in A375 melanoma cells adapted to low doses of a TNFR agonist, and we accurately predict the re-sensitization and successful induction of apoptosis in the adapted cells via the silencing of XIAP and the down-regulation of NFkB. We further point to specific drug combinations that could be applied in the clinics. Overall, we demonstrate that our approach is able to identify the most relevant changes between sensitive and resistant cancer clones. [less ▲]

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See detailSystemic network analysis identifies XIAP and IkappaBalpha as potential drug targets in TRAIL resistant BRAF mutated melanoma.
Del Mistro, Greta; Lucarelli, Philippe UL; Muller, Ines et al

in NPJ systems biology and applications (2018), 4

Metastatic melanoma remains a life-threatening disease because most tumors develop resistance to targeted kinase inhibitors thereby regaining tumorigenic capacity. We show the 2nd generation hexavalent ... [more ▼]

Metastatic melanoma remains a life-threatening disease because most tumors develop resistance to targeted kinase inhibitors thereby regaining tumorigenic capacity. We show the 2nd generation hexavalent TRAIL receptor-targeted agonist IZI1551 to induce pronounced apoptotic cell death in mutBRAF melanoma cells. Aiming to identify molecular changes that may confer IZI1551 resistance we combined Dynamic Bayesian Network modelling with a sophisticated regularization strategy resulting in sparse and context-sensitive networks and show the performance of this strategy in the detection of cell line-specific deregulations of a signalling network. Comparing IZI1551-sensitive to IZI1551-resistant melanoma cells the model accurately and correctly predicted activation of NFkappaB in concert with upregulation of the anti-apoptotic protein XIAP as the key mediator of IZI1551 resistance. Thus, the incorporation of multiple regularization functions in logical network optimization may provide a promising avenue to assess the effects of drug combinations and to identify responders to selected combination therapies. [less ▲]

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See detailFALCON: A Toolbox for the Fast Contextualisation of Logical Networks.
De Landtsheer, Sébastien UL; Trairatphisan, Panuwat UL; Lucarelli, Philippe UL et al

in Bioinformatics (Oxford, England) (2017)

Motivation: Mathematical modelling of regulatory networks allows for the discovery of knowledge at the system level. However, existing modelling tools are often computation-heavy and do not offer ... [more ▼]

Motivation: Mathematical modelling of regulatory networks allows for the discovery of knowledge at the system level. However, existing modelling tools are often computation-heavy and do not offer intuitive ways to explore the model, to test hypotheses or to interpret the results biologically. Results: We have developed a computational approach to contextualise logical models of regulatory networks with biological measurements based on a probabilistic description of rule-based interactions between the different molecules. Here, we propose a Matlab toolbox, FALCON, to automatically and efficiently build and contextualise networks, which includes a pipeline for conducting parameter analysis, knockouts, and easy and fast model investigation. The contextualised models could then provide qualitative and quantitative information about the network and suggest hypotheses about biological processes. Availability and implementation: FALCON is freely available for non-commercial users on GitHub under the GPLv3 licence. The toolbox, installation instructions, full documentation and test datasets are available at https://github.com/sysbiolux/FALCON . FALCON runs under Matlab (MathWorks) and requires the Optimization Toolbox. Contact: thomas.sauter@uni.lu. Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online. [less ▲]

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