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ISSN 1386-6338 (P)
ISSN 1434-3207 (E)
In Silico Biology is a scientific research journal for the advancement of computational models and simulations applied to complex biological phenomena. We publish peer-reviewed leading-edge biological, biomedical and biotechnological research in which computer-based (i.e.,
) modeling and analysis tools are developed and utilized to predict and elucidate dynamics of biological systems, their design and control, and their evolution. Experimental support may also be provided to support the computational analyses.
In Silico Biology aims to advance the knowledge of the principles of organization of living systems. We strive to provide computational frameworks for understanding how observable biological properties arise from complex systems. In particular, we seek for integrative formalisms to decipher cross-talks underlying systems level properties, ultimate aim of multi-scale models.
Studies published in
In Silico Biology generally use theoretical models and computational analysis to gain quantitative insights into regulatory processes and networks, cell physiology and morphology, tissue dynamics and organ systems. Special areas of interest include signal transduction and information processing, gene expression and gene regulatory networks, metabolism, proliferation, differentiation and morphogenesis, among others, and the use of multi-scale modeling to connect molecular and cellular systems to the level of organisms and populations.
In Silico Biology also publishes foundational research in which novel algorithms are developed to facilitate modeling and simulations. Such research must demonstrate application to a concrete biological problem.
In Silico Biology frequently publishes special issues on seminal topics and trends. Special issues are handled by Special Issue Editors appointed by the Editor-in-Chief. Proposals for special issues should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief.
About In Silico Biology
is a pendant to
(in the living system) and
(in the test tube) biological experiments, and implies the gain of insights by computer-based simulations and model analyses.
In Silico Biology (ISB) was founded in 1998 as a purely online journal. IOS Press became the publisher of the printed journal shortly after. Today, ISB is dedicated exclusively to biological systems modeling and multi-scale simulations and is published solely by IOS Press. The previous online publisher, Bioinformation Systems, maintains a website containing studies published between 1998 and 2010 for archival purposes.
We strongly support open communications and encourage researchers to share results and preliminary data with the community. Therefore, results and preliminary data made public through conference presentations, conference proceeding or posting of unrefereed manuscripts on preprint servers will not prohibit publication in ISB. However, authors are required to modify a preprint to include the journal reference (including DOI), and a link to the published article on the ISB website upon publication.
Abstract: Modern methods of high-throughput molecular biology render it possible to generate time series of metabolite concentrations and the expression of genes and proteins in vivo. These time profiles contain valuable information about the structure and dynamics of the underlying biological system. This information is implicit and its extraction is a challenging but ultimately very rewarding task for the mathematical modeler. Using a well-suited modeling framework, such as Biochemical Systems Theory (BST), it is…possible to formulate the extraction of information as an inverse problem that in principle may be solved with a genetic algorithm or nonlinear regression. However, two types of issues associated with this inverse problem make the extraction task difficult. One type pertains to the algorithmic difficulties encountered in nonlinear regressions with moderate and large systems. The other type is of an entirely different nature. It is a consequence of assumptions that are often taken for granted in the design and analysis of mathematical models of biological systems and that need to be revisited in the context of inverse analyses. The article describes the extraction process and some of its challenges and proposes partial solutions.
Keywords: Biochemical Systems Theory, metabolic profile, network identification, pathway analysis, proteomics, S-system, time series
Abstract: Modern 'omics'-technologies result in huge amounts of data about life processes. For analysis and data mining purposes this data has to be considered in the context of the underlying biological networks. This work presents an approach for integrating data from biological experiments into metabolic networks by mapping the data onto network elements and visualising the data enriched networks automatically. This methodology is implemented in DBE, an information system that supports the analysis and visualisation…of experimental data in the context of metabolic networks. It consists of five parts: (1) the DBE-Database for consistent data storage, (2) the Excel-Importer application for the data import, (3) the DBE-Website as the interface for the system, (4) the DBE-Pictures application for the up- and download of binary (e.g. image) files, and (5) DBE-Gravisto, a network analysis and graph visualisation system. The usability of this approach is demonstrated in two examples.
Keywords: metabolic networks, visualisation, metabolic profiling, information system, data integration
Abstract: Flexibility of metabolites and enzymes is investigated (i) on the level of the individual molecule, (ii) on the pathway level and (iii) combined effects on the systems and network level. Tools and results from our current research are summarized including data from our metabolite enzyme database. Including our latest census we find frequently used metabolites stimulate evolutionary flexibility in specific enzyme superfamilies. Furthermore, simultaneous changes of reactions and metabolites are observed in these…flexible enzyme superfamilies. Both effects provide a strong source for resistance in parasites and pathogens. Specific adaptations scenarios and some counter strategies are discussed.
Abstract: Metabolic pathway alignment represents one of the most powerful tools for comparative analysis of metabolism. It involves recognition of metabolites common to a set of functionally-related metabolic pathways, interpretation of biological evolution processes and determination of alternative metabolic pathways. Moreover, it is of assistance in function prediction and metabolism modeling. Although research on genomic sequence alignment is extensive, the problem of aligning metabolic pathways has received less attention. We are motivated to…develop an algorithm of metabolic pathway alignment to reveal the similarities between metabolic pathways. A new definition of the metabolic pathway is introduced. The algorithm has been implemented into the PathAligner system; its web-based interface is available at http://bibiserv.techfak.uni-bielefeld.de/pathaligner/.
Abstract: To understand biochemical processes caused by, e.g., mutations or deletions in the genome, the knowledge of possible alternative paths between two arbitrary chemical compounds is of increasing interest for biotechnology, pharmacology, medicine, and drug design. With the steadily increasing amount of data from high-throughput experiments new biochemical networks can be constructed and existing ones can be extended, which results in many large metabolic, signal transduction, and gene regulatory networks. The search for…alternative paths within these complex and large networks can provide a huge amount of solutions, which can not be handled manually. Moreover, not all of the alternative paths are generally of interest. Therefore, we have developed and implemented a method, which allows us to define constraints to reduce the set of all structurally possible paths to the truly interesting path set. The paper describes the search algorithm and the constraints definition language. We give examples for path searches using this dedicated special language for a Petri net model of the sucrose-to-starch breakdown in the potato tuber. Availability: http://sanaga.tfh-berlin.de/~stepp/
Keywords: Petri nets, systems biology, biochemical networks, metabolic networks, signal transduction networks, path search with constraints, graph theory, sucrose-to-starch breakdown, potato tuber
Abstract: A wide variety of approaches, ranging from Petri nets to systems of partial differential equations, have been used to model very specific aspects of cellular or biochemical functions. Here we describe how an agent-based or dynamic cellular automata (DCA) approach can be used as a very simple, yet very general method to model many different kinds of cellular or biochemical processes. Specifically, using simple pairwise interaction rules coupled with random object moves to simulate Brownian motion,…we show how the DCA approach can be used to easily and accurately model diffusion, viscous drag, enzyme rate processes, metabolism (the Kreb's cycle), and complex genetic circuits (the repressilator). We also demonstrate how DCA approaches are able to accurately capture the stochasticity of many biological processes. The success and simplicity of this technique suggests that many other physical properties and significantly more complicated aspects of cellular behavior could be modeled using DCA methods. An easy-to-use, graphically-based computer program, called SimCell, was developed to perform the DCA simulations described here. It is available at http://wishart.biology.ualberta.ca/SimCell/.
Keywords: cellular simulation, cellular automata, E. coli, genetic circuit
Abstract: A framework is presented that captures the discrete and probabilistic nature of molecular transport and reaction kinetics found in a living cell as well as formally representing the spatial distribution of these phenomena. This particle or agent-based approach is computationally robust and complements established methods. Namely it provides a higher level of spatial resolution than formulations based on ordinary differential equations (ODE) while offering significant advantages in computational efficiency over molecular dynamics…(MD). Using this framework, a model cell membrane has been constructed with discrete particle agents that respond to local component interactions that resemble flocking or herding behavioural cues in animals. Results from simulation experiments are presented where this model cell exhibits many of the characteristic behaviours associated with its biological counterpart such as lateral diffusion, response to osmotic pressure gradients, membrane growth and cell division. Lateral diffusion rates and estimates for the membrane modulus of elasticity derived from these simple experiments fall well within a biologically relevant range of values. More importantly, these estimates were obtained by applying a simple qualitative tuning of the model membrane. Membrane growth was simulated by injecting precursor molecules into the proto-cell at different rates and produced a variety of morphologies ranging from a single large cell to a cluster of cells. The computational scalability of this methodology has been tested and results from benchmarking experiments indicate that real-time simulation of a complete bacterial cell will be possible within 10 years.
Abstract: Integr8 (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/integr8/) is providing an integration layer for the exploitation of genomic and proteomic data by drawing on databases maintained at major bioinformatics centres in Europe. Main aims are to store the relationships of biological entities to each other and to entries in other databases, to provide a framework that allows for new kinds of data to be integrated, and to offer an entity-centric view of complete genomes and proteomes. Basic tools for data integration comprise…the Proteome Analysis database, the International Protein Index (IPI), the Universal Protein sequence archive (UniParc) and the Genome Reviews. Entry points for the Integr8 portal depend on the users entity of interest: from browsing the taxonomy or with a predetermined species of interest, the species page can be used, and a simple search page leads to different applications when looking for certain protein sequences or genes. Customisable statistics data are available from the BioMart application, and pre-prepared data can be downloaded from the FTP site.
Abstract: We have created a new Java™-based integrated computational environment for the exploration of genomic data, called Bluejay. The system is capable of using almost any XML file related to genomic data. Non-XML data sources can be accessed via a proxy server. Bluejay has several features, which are new to Bioinformatics, including an unlimited semantic zoom capability, coupled with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) outputs; an implementation of the XLink standard, which features access to MAGPIE Genecards as…well as any BioMOBY service accessible over the Internet; and the integration of gene chip analysis tools with the functional assignments. The system can be used as a signed web applet, Web Start, and a local stand-alone application, with or without connection to the Internet. It is available free of charge and as open source via http://bluejay.ucalgary.ca.
Keywords: bioinformatics, visualization, open standards, eXtensible Markup Language (XML), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), Java™, BioMOBY web services, Bluejay