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See detailIdentification of genes under dynamic post-transcriptional regulation from time-series epigenomic data
Becker, Julia Christina UL; Gerard, Déborah UL; Ginolhac, Aurélien UL et al

in Epigenomics (2019)

Aim: Prediction of genes under dynamic post-transcriptional regulation from epigenomic data. Materials & methods: We used time-series profiles of chromatin immunoprecipitation-seq data of histone ... [more ▼]

Aim: Prediction of genes under dynamic post-transcriptional regulation from epigenomic data. Materials & methods: We used time-series profiles of chromatin immunoprecipitation-seq data of histone modifications from differentiation of mesenchymal progenitor cells toward adipocytes and osteoblasts to predict gene expression levels at five time points in both lineages and estimated the deviation of those predictions from the RNA-seq measured expression levels using linear regression. Results & conclusion: The genes with biggest changes in their estimated stability across the time series are enriched for noncoding RNAs and lineage-specific biological processes. Clustering mRNAs according to their stability dynamics allows identification of post-transcriptionally coregulated mRNAs and their shared regulators through sequence enrichment analysis. We identify miR-204 as an early induced adipogenic microRNA targeting Akr1c14 and Il1rl1. [less ▲]

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See detailCreation and analysis of biochemical constraint-based models using the COBRA Toolbox v.3.0.
Heirendt, Laurent UL; Arreckx, Sylvain; Pfau, Thomas UL et al

in Nature protocols (2019), 14(3), 639-702

Constraint-based reconstruction and analysis (COBRA) provides a molecular mechanistic framework for integrative analysis of experimental molecular systems biology data and quantitative prediction of ... [more ▼]

Constraint-based reconstruction and analysis (COBRA) provides a molecular mechanistic framework for integrative analysis of experimental molecular systems biology data and quantitative prediction of physicochemically and biochemically feasible phenotypic states. The COBRA Toolbox is a comprehensive desktop software suite of interoperable COBRA methods. It has found widespread application in biology, biomedicine, and biotechnology because its functions can be flexibly combined to implement tailored COBRA protocols for any biochemical network. This protocol is an update to the COBRA Toolbox v.1.0 and v.2.0. Version 3.0 includes new methods for quality-controlled reconstruction, modeling, topological analysis, strain and experimental design, and network visualization, as well as network integration of chemoinformatic, metabolomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and thermochemical data. New multi-lingual code integration also enables an expansion in COBRA application scope via high-precision, high-performance, and nonlinear numerical optimization solvers for multi-scale, multi-cellular, and reaction kinetic modeling, respectively. This protocol provides an overview of all these new features and can be adapted to generate and analyze constraint-based models in a wide variety of scenarios. The COBRA Toolbox v.3.0 provides an unparalleled depth of COBRA methods. [less ▲]

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See detailTemporal enhancer profiling of parallel lineages identifies AHR and GLIS1 as regulators of mesenchymal multipotency
Gerard, Déborah UL; Schmidt, Florian; Ginolhac, Aurélien UL et al

in Nucleic Acids Research (2018)

Temporal data on gene expression and context-specific open chromatin states can improve identification of key transcription factors (TFs) and the gene regulatory networks (GRNs) controlling cellular ... [more ▼]

Temporal data on gene expression and context-specific open chromatin states can improve identification of key transcription factors (TFs) and the gene regulatory networks (GRNs) controlling cellular differentiation. However, their integration remains challenging. Here, we delineate a general approach for data-driven and unbiased identification of key TFs and dynamic GRNs, called EPIC-DREM. We generated time-series transcriptomic and epigenomic profiles during differentiation of mouse multipotent bone marrow stromal cell line (ST2) toward adipocytes and osteoblasts. Using our novel approach we constructed time-resolved GRNs for both lineages and identifed the shared TFs involved in both differentiation processes. To take an alternative approach to prioritize the identified shared regulators, we mapped dynamic super-enhancers in both lineages and associated them to target genes with correlated expression profiles. The combination of the two approaches identified aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) and Glis family zinc finger 1 (GLIS1) as mesenchymal key TFs controlled by dynamic cell type-specific super-enhancers that become repressed in both lineages. AHR and GLIS1 control differentiation-induced genes and their overexpression can inhibit the lineage commitment of the multipotent bone marrow-derived ST2 cells. [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 detailPhosphoprotein patterns predict trametinib responsiveness and optimal trametinib sensitisation strategies in melanoma.
Rozanc, Jan; Sakellaropoulos, Theodore; Antoranz, Asier et al

in Cell death and differentiation (2018)

Malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive form of skin cancer responsible for the majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Recent insight into the heterogeneous nature of melanoma suggests more ... [more ▼]

Malignant melanoma is a highly aggressive form of skin cancer responsible for the majority of skin cancer-related deaths. Recent insight into the heterogeneous nature of melanoma suggests more personalised treatments may be necessary to overcome drug resistance and improve patient care. To this end, reliable molecular signatures that can accurately predict treatment responsiveness need to be identified. In this study, we applied multiplex phosphoproteomic profiling across a panel of 24 melanoma cell lines with different disease-relevant mutations, to predict responsiveness to MEK inhibitor trametinib. Supported by multivariate statistical analysis and multidimensional pattern recognition algorithms, the responsiveness of individual cell lines to trametinib could be predicted with high accuracy (83% correct predictions), independent of mutation status. We also successfully employed this approach to case specifically predict whether individual melanoma cell lines could be sensitised to trametinib. Our predictions identified that combining MEK inhibition with selective targeting of c-JUN and/or FAK, using siRNA-based depletion or pharmacological inhibitors, sensitised resistant cell lines and significantly enhanced treatment efficacy. Our study indicates that multiplex proteomic analyses coupled with pattern recognition approaches could assist in personalising trametinib-based treatment decisions in the future. [less ▲]

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See detailThe FASTCORE Family: For the Fast Reconstruction of Compact Context-Specific Metabolic Networks Models.
Pires Pacheco, Maria; Sauter, Thomas UL

in Methods in Molecular Biology (Clifton, N.J.) (2018), (1716), 101-110

The FASTCORE family is a family of algorithms that are mainly used to build context-specific models but can also be applied to other tasks such as gapfilling and consistency testing. The FASTCORE family ... [more ▼]

The FASTCORE family is a family of algorithms that are mainly used to build context-specific models but can also be applied to other tasks such as gapfilling and consistency testing. The FASTCORE family has very low computational demands with running times that are several orders of magnitude lower than its main competitors. Furthermore, the models built by the FASTCORE family have a better resolution power (defined as the ability to capture metabolic variations between different tissues, cell types, or contexts) than models from other algorithms. [less ▲]

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See detailUsing Regularization to Infer Cell Line Specificity in Logical Network Models of Signaling Pathways.
De Landtsheer, Sébastien; Lucarelli, Philippe UL; Sauter, Thomas UL

in Frontiers in physiology (2018), 9

Understanding the functional properties of cells of different origins is a long-standing challenge of personalized medicine. Especially in cancer, the high heterogeneity observed in patients slows down ... [more ▼]

Understanding the functional properties of cells of different origins is a long-standing challenge of personalized medicine. Especially in cancer, the high heterogeneity observed in patients slows down the development of effective cures. The molecular differences between cell types or between healthy and diseased cellular states are usually determined by the wiring of regulatory networks. Understanding these molecular and cellular differences at the systems level would improve patient stratification and facilitate the design of rational intervention strategies. Models of cellular regulatory networks frequently make weak assumptions about the distribution of model parameters across cell types or patients. These assumptions are usually expressed in the form of regularization of the objective function of the optimization problem. We propose a new method of regularization for network models of signaling pathways based on the local density of the inferred parameter values within the parameter space. Our method reduces the complexity of models by creating groups of cell line-specific parameters which can then be optimized together. We demonstrate the use of our method by recovering the correct topology and inferring accurate values of the parameters of a small synthetic model. To show the value of our method in a realistic setting, we re-analyze a recently published phosphoproteomic dataset from a panel of 14 colon cancer cell lines. We conclude that our method efficiently reduces model complexity and helps recovering context-specific regulatory information. [less ▲]

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See detailAnnexin A1 regulates EGFR activity and alters EGFR-containing tumour-derived exosomes in head and neck cancers.
Raulf, N.; Lucarelli, Philippe UL; Thavaraj, S. et al

in European journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990) (2018), 102

BACKGROUND: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the 6th most common cancer with approximately half a million cases diagnosed each year worldwide. HNSCC has a poor survival rate which has not ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is the 6th most common cancer with approximately half a million cases diagnosed each year worldwide. HNSCC has a poor survival rate which has not improved for over 30 years. The molecular pathogenesis of HNSCCs remains largely unresolved; there is high prevalence of p53 mutations and EGFR overexpression; however, the contribution of these molecular changes to disease development and/or progression remains unknown. We have recently identified microRNA miR-196a to be highly overexpressed in HNSCC with poor prognosis. Oncogenic miR-196a directly targets Annexin A1 (ANXA1). Although increased ANXA1 expression levels have been associated with breast cancer development, its role in HNSCC is debatable and its functional contribution to HNSCC development remains unclear. METHODS: ANXA1 mRNA and protein expression levels were determined by RNA Seq analysis and immunohistochemistry, respectively. Gain- and loss-of-function studies were performed to analyse the effects of ANXA1 modulation on cell proliferation, mechanism of activation of EGFR signalling as well as on exosome production and exosomal phospho-EGFR. RESULTS: ANXA1 was found to be downregulated in head and neck cancer tissues, both at mRNA and protein level. Its anti-proliferative effects were mediated through the intracellular form of the protein. Importantly, ANXA1 downregulation resulted in increased phosphorylation and activity of EGFR and its downstream PI3K-AKT signalling. Additionally, ANXA1 modulation affected exosome production and influenced the release of exosomal phospho-EGFR. CONCLUSIONS: ANXA1 acts as a tumour suppressor in HNSCC. It is involved in the regulation of EGFR activity and exosomal phospho-EGFR release and could be an important prognostic biomarker. [less ▲]

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See detail"Stroma-induced phenotypic plasticity offers phenotype-specific targeting to improve melanoma treatment".
Seip, Kotryna; Jorgensen, Kjetil; Haselager, Marco Vincent et al

in Cancer letters (2018)

Cancer cells' phenotypic plasticity, promoted by stromal cells, contributes to intra-tumoral heterogeneity and affects response to therapy. We have disclosed an association between fibroblast-stimulated ... [more ▼]

Cancer cells' phenotypic plasticity, promoted by stromal cells, contributes to intra-tumoral heterogeneity and affects response to therapy. We have disclosed an association between fibroblast-stimulated phenotype switching and resistance to the clinically used BRAF inhibitor (BRAFi) vemurafenib in malignant melanoma, revealing a challenge in targeting the fibroblast-induced phenotype. Here we compared molecular features and drug sensitivity in melanoma cells grown as co-cultures with fibroblasts versus mono-cultures. In the presence of fibroblasts, melanoma cells switched to the dedifferentiated, mesenchymal-like, inflammatory phenotype that showed reduced sensitivity to the most of 275 tested cancer drugs. Fibroblasts, however, sensitized melanoma cells to PI3K inhibitors (PI3Ki) and particularly the inhibitor of GSK3, AR-A014418 (GSK3i), that showed superior efficacy in co-cultures. The proteome changes induced by the BRAFi+GSK3i combination mimicked changes induced by BRAFi in mono-cultures, and GSK3i in co-cultures. This suggests that the single drug drives the response to the combination treatment, depending on fibroblast presence or absence, consequently, phenotype. We propose that the BRAFi and GSK3i (or PI3Ki) combination exemplifies phenotype-specific combinatorial treatment that should be beneficial in phenotypically heterogeneous tumors rich in stromal interactions. [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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See detailThermodynamically constrained averaging theory for cancer growth modelling
Albrecht, Marco UL; Sciumè, Giuseppe; Lucarelli, Philippe UL et al

in IFAC-PapersOnLine (2016), 49(26), 289-294

In Systems Biology, network models are often used to describe intracellular mechanisms at the cellular level. The obtained results are difficult to translate into three-dimensional biological systems of ... [more ▼]

In Systems Biology, network models are often used to describe intracellular mechanisms at the cellular level. The obtained results are difficult to translate into three-dimensional biological systems of higher order. The multiplicity and time dependency of cellular system boundaries, mechanical phenomena and spatial concentration gradients affect the intercellular relations and communication of biochemical networks. These environmental effects can be integrated with our promising cancer modelling environment, that is based on thermodynamically constrained averaging theory (TCAT). Especially, the TCAT parameter viscosity can be used as critical player in tumour evolution. Strong cell-cell contacts and a high degree of differentiation make cancer cells viscous and support compact tumour growth with high tumour cell density and accompanied displacement of the extracellular material. In contrast, dedifferentiation and losing of cell-cell contacts make cancer cells more fluid and lead to an infiltrating tumour growth behaviour without resistance due to the ECM. The fast expanding tumour front of the invasive type consumes oxygen and the limited oxygen availability behind the invasive front results automatically in a much smaller average tumour cell density in the tumour core. The proposed modelling technique is most suitable for tumour growth phenomena in stiff tissues like skin or bone with high content of extracellular matrix. [less ▲]

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See detailBenchmarking procedures for high-throughput context specific reconstruction algorithms
Pacheco, Maria Irene UL; Pfau, Thomas UL; Sauter, Thomas UL

in Frontiers in Physiology (2016)

Recent progress in high-throughput data acquisition has shifted the focus from data generation to processing and understanding of how to integrate collected information. Context specific reconstruction ... [more ▼]

Recent progress in high-throughput data acquisition has shifted the focus from data generation to processing and understanding of how to integrate collected information. Context specific reconstruction based on generic genome scale models like ReconX or HMR has the potential to become a diagnostic and treatment tool tailored to the analysis of specific individuals. The respective computational algorithms require a high level of predictive power, robustness and sensitivity. Although multiple context specific reconstruction algorithms were published in the last 10 years, only a fraction of them is suitable for model building based on human high-throughput data. Beside other reasons, this might be due to problems arising from the limitation to only one metabolic target function or arbitrary thresholding. This review describes and analyses common validation methods used for testing model building algorithms. Two major methods can be distinguished: consistency testing and comparison based testing. The first is concerned with robustness against noise, e.g., missing data due to the impossibility to distinguish between the signal and the background of non-specific binding of probes in a microarray experiment, and whether distinct sets of input expressed genes corresponding to i.e., different tissues yield distinct models. The latter covers methods comparing sets of functionalities, comparison with existing networks or additional databases. We test those methods on several available algorithms and deduce properties of these algorithms that can be compared with future developments. The set of tests performed, can therefore serve as a benchmarking procedure for future algorithms. [less ▲]

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See detailConstraint based modelling going multicellular
Martins Conde, Patricia UL; Sauter, Thomas UL; Pfau, Thomas UL

in Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences (2016), 3(3),

Constraint based modelling has seen applications in many microorganisms. For example, there are now established methods to determine potential genetic modifications and external interventions to increase ... [more ▼]

Constraint based modelling has seen applications in many microorganisms. For example, there are now established methods to determine potential genetic modifications and external interventions to increase the efficiency of microbial strains in chemical production pipelines. In addition, multiple models of multicellular organisms have been created including plants and humans. While initially the focus here was on modelling individual cell types of the multicellular organism, this focus recently started to switch. Models of microbial communities, as well as multitissue models of higher organisms have been constructed. These models thereby can include different parts of a plant, like root, stem or different tissue types in the same organ. Such models can elucidate details of the interplay between symbiotic organisms, as well as the concerted efforts of multiple tissues and can be applied to analyse the effects of drugs or mutations on a more systemic level. In this review we give an overview of the recent development of multi-tissue models using constraint based techniques and the methods employed when investigating these models. We further highlight advances in combining constraint based models with dynamic and regulatory information and give an overview of these types of hybrid or multi-level approaches. [less ▲]

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See detailA Probabilistic Boolean Network Approach for the Analysis of Cancer-Specific Signalling: A Case Study of Deregulated PDGF Signalling in GIST.
Trairatphisan, Panuwat UL; Wiesinger, Monique UL; Bahlawane, Christelle UL et al

in PloS one (2016), 11(5), 0156223

BACKGROUND: Signal transduction networks are increasingly studied with mathematical modelling approaches while each of them is suited for a particular problem. For the contextualisation and analysis of ... [more ▼]

BACKGROUND: Signal transduction networks are increasingly studied with mathematical modelling approaches while each of them is suited for a particular problem. For the contextualisation and analysis of signalling networks with steady-state protein data, we identified probabilistic Boolean network (PBN) as a promising framework which could capture quantitative changes of molecular changes at steady-state with a minimal parameterisation. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: In our case study, we successfully applied the PBN approach to model and analyse the deregulated Platelet-Derived Growth Factor (PDGF) signalling pathway in Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST). We experimentally determined a rich and accurate dataset of steady-state profiles of selected downstream kinases of PDGF-receptor-alpha mutants in combination with inhibitor treatments. Applying the tool optPBN, we fitted a literature-derived candidate network model to the training dataset consisting of single perturbation conditions. Model analysis suggested several important crosstalk interactions. The validity of these predictions was further investigated experimentally pointing to relevant ongoing crosstalk from PI3K to MAPK signalling in tumour cells. The refined model was evaluated with a validation dataset comprising multiple perturbation conditions. The model thereby showed excellent performance allowing to quantitatively predict the combinatorial responses from the individual treatment results in this cancer setting. The established optPBN pipeline is also widely applicable to gain a better understanding of other signalling networks at steady-state in a context-specific fashion. [less ▲]

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See detailL-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation in breast cancer cells and in vitro is mediated by RSK downstream of the ERK/MAPK pathway
Lommel, Maiti UL; Trairatphisan, Panuwat UL; Gäbler, Karoline UL et al

in FASEB Journal (2016)

Deregulated cell migration and invasion are hallmarks of metastatic cancer cells. Phosphorylation on residue Ser5 of the actin-bundling protein L-plastin activates L-plastin and has been reported to be ... [more ▼]

Deregulated cell migration and invasion are hallmarks of metastatic cancer cells. Phosphorylation on residue Ser5 of the actin-bundling protein L-plastin activates L-plastin and has been reported to be crucial for invasion and metastasis. Here, we investigate signal transduction leading to L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation using 4 human breast cancer cell lines. Whole-genome microarray analysis comparing cell lines with different invasive capacities and corresponding variations in L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation level revealed that genes of the ERK/MAPK pathway are differentially expressed. It is noteworthy that in vitro kinase assays showed that ERK/MAPK pathway downstream ribosomal protein S6 kinases α-1 (RSK1) and α-3 (RSK2) are able to directly phosphorylate L-plastin on Ser5. Small interfering RNA- or short hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown and activation/inhibition studies followed by immunoblot analysis and computational modeling confirmed that ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) is an essential activator of L-plastin. Migration and invasion assays showed that RSK knockdown led to a decrease of up to 30% of migration and invasion of MDA-MB-435S cells. Although the presence of L-plastin was not necessary for migration/invasion of these cells, immunofluorescence assays illustrated RSK-dependent recruitment of Ser5-phosphorylated L-plastin to migratory structures. Altogether, we provide evidence that the ERK/MAPK pathway is involved in L-plastin Ser5 phosphorylation in breast cancer cells with RSK1 and RSK2 kinases able to directly phosphorylate L-plastin residue Ser5. [less ▲]

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See detailIntegrated metabolic modelling reveals cell-type specific epigenetic control points of the macrophage metabolic network
Pacheco, Maria Irene UL; John, Elisabeth UL; Kaoma, Tony et al

in BMC Genomics (2015), 16(809),

Background: The reconstruction of context-specific metabolic models from easily and reliably measurable features such as transcriptomics data will be increasingly important in research and medicine ... [more ▼]

Background: The reconstruction of context-specific metabolic models from easily and reliably measurable features such as transcriptomics data will be increasingly important in research and medicine. Current reconstruction methods suffer from high computational effort and arbitrary threshold setting. Moreover, understanding the underlying epigenetic regulation might allow the identification of putative intervention points within metabolic networks. Genes under high regulatory load from multiple enhancers or super-enhancers are known key genes for disease and cell identity. However, their role in regulation of metabolism and their placement within the metabolic networks has not been studied. Methods: Here we present FASTCORMICS, a fast and robust workflow for the creation of high-quality metabolic models from transcriptomics data. FASTCORMICS is devoid of arbitrary parameter settings and due to its low computational demand allows cross-validation assays. Applying FASTCORMICS, we have generated models for 63 primary human cell types from microarray data, revealing significant differences in their metabolic networks. Results: To understand the cell type-specific regulation of the alternative metabolic pathways we built multiple models during differentiation of primary human monocytes to macrophages and performed ChIP-Seq experiments for histone H3 K27 acetylation (H3K27ac) to map the active enhancers in macrophages. Focusing on the metabolic genes under high regulatory load from multiple enhancers or super-enhancers, we found these genes to show the most cell type-restricted and abundant expression profiles within their respective pathways. Importantly, the high regulatory load genes are associated to reactions enriched for transport reactions and other pathway entry points, suggesting that they are critical regulatory control points for cell type-specific metabolism. Conclusions: By integrating metabolic modelling and epigenomic analysis we have identified high regulatory load as a common feature of metabolic genes at pathway entry points such as transporters within the macrophage metabolic network. Analysis of these control points through further integration of metabolic and gene regulatory networks in various contexts could be beneficial in multiple fields from identification of disease intervention strategies to cellular reprogramming. [less ▲]

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See detailCell type-selective disease-association of genes under high regulatory load
Galhardo, Mafalda Sofia UL; Berninger, Philipp; Nguyen, Thanh Phuong UL et al

in Nucleic Acids Research (2015), 43(18), 8839-8855

We previously showed that disease-linked metabolic genes are often under combinatorial regulation. Using the genome-wide ChIP-Seq binding profiles for 93 transcription factors in nine different cell lines ... [more ▼]

We previously showed that disease-linked metabolic genes are often under combinatorial regulation. Using the genome-wide ChIP-Seq binding profiles for 93 transcription factors in nine different cell lines, we show that genes under high regulatory load are significantly enriched for disease-association across cell types. We find that transcription factor load correlates with the enhancer load of the genes and thereby allows the identification of genes under high regulatory load by epigenomic mapping of active enhancers. Identification of the high enhancer load genes across 139 samples from 96 different cell and tissue types reveals a consistent enrichment for disease-associated genes in a cell type-selective manner. The underlying genes are not limited to super-enhancer genes and show several types of disease-association evidence beyond genetic variation (such as biomarkers). Interestingly, the high regulatory load genes are involved in more KEGG pathways than expected by chance, exhibit increased betweenness centrality in the interaction network of liver disease genes, and carry longer 3'UTRs with more microRNA (miRNA) binding sites than genes on average, suggesting a role as hubs integrating signals within regulatory networks. In summary, epigenetic mapping of active enhancers presents a promising and unbiased approach for identification of novel disease genes in a cell type-selective manner. [less ▲]

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See detailTowards improved genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions: unification, transcript specificity and beyond.
Pfau, Thomas UL; Pacheco, Maria Irene UL; Sauter, Thomas UL

in Briefings in bioinformatics (2015)

Genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions provide a basis for the investigation of the metabolic properties of an organism. There are reconstructions available for multiple organisms, from ... [more ▼]

Genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions provide a basis for the investigation of the metabolic properties of an organism. There are reconstructions available for multiple organisms, from prokaryotes to higher organisms and methods for the analysis of a reconstruction. One example is the use of flux balance analysis to improve the yields of a target chemical, which has been applied successfully. However, comparison of results between existing reconstructions and models presents a challenge because of the heterogeneity of the available reconstructions, for example, of standards for presenting gene-protein-reaction associations, nomenclature of metabolites and reactions or selection of protonation states. The lack of comparability for gene identifiers or model-specific reactions without annotated evidence often leads to the creation of a new model from scratch, as data cannot be properly matched otherwise. In this contribution, we propose to improve the predictive power of metabolic models by switching from gene-protein-reaction associations to transcript-isoform-reaction associations, thus taking advantage of the improvement of precision in gene expression measurements. To achieve this precision, we discuss available databases that can be used to retrieve this type of information and point at issues that can arise from their neglect. Further, we stress issues that arise from non-standardized building pipelines, like inconsistencies in protonation states. In addition, problems arising from the use of non-specific cofactors, e.g. artificial futile cycles, are discussed, and finally efforts of the metabolic modelling community to unify model reconstructions are highlighted. [less ▲]

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