E-CELL: software environment for whole-cell simulation.
MOTIVATION: Genome sequencing projects and further systematic functional analyses of complete gene sets are producing an unprecedented mass of molecular information for a wide range of model organisms. This provides us with a detailed account of the cell with which we may begin to build models for simulating intracellular molecular processes to predict the dynamic behavior of living cells. Previous work in biochemical and genetic simulation has isolated well-characterized pathways for detailed analysis, but methods for building integrative models of the cell that incorporate gene regulation, metabolism and signaling have not been established. We, therefore, were motivated to develop a software environment for building such integrative models based on gene sets, and running simulations to conduct experiments in silico. RESULTS: E-CELL, a modeling and simulation environment for biochemical and genetic processes, has been developed. The E-CELL system allows a user to define functions of proteins, protein-protein interactions, protein-DNA interactions, regulation of gene expression and other features of cellular metabolism, as a set of reaction rules. E-CELL simulates cell behavior by numerically integrating the differential equations described implicitly in these reaction rules. The user can observe, through a computer display, dynamic changes in concentrations of proteins, protein complexes and other chemical compounds in the cell. Using this software, we constructed a model of a hypothetical cell with only 127 genes sufficient for transcription, translation, energy production and phospholipid synthesis. Most of the genes are taken from Mycoplasma genitalium, the organism having the smallest known chromosome, whose complete 580 kb genome sequence was determined at TIGR in 1995. We discuss future applications of the E-CELL system with special respect to genome engineering. AVAILABILITY: The E-CELL software is available upon request. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The complete list of rules of the developed cell model with kinetic parameters can be obtained via our web site at: http://e-cell.org/. (+info)
Effector cells of both nonhemopoietic and hemopoietic origin are required for interferon (IFN)-gamma- and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha-dependent host resistance to the intracellular pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii.
Although interferon (IFN)-gamma-activated, mononuclear phagocytes are considered to be the major effectors of resistance to intracellular pathogens, it is unclear how they control the growth of microorganisms that reside in nonhemopoietic cells. Pathogens within such cells may be killed by metabolites secreted by activated macrophages or, alternatively, directly controlled by cytokine-induced microbicidal mechanisms triggered within infected nonphagocytic cells. To distinguish between these two basic mechanisms of cell-mediated immunity, reciprocal bone marrow chimeras were constructed between wild-type and IFN-gamma receptor-deficient mice and their survival assessed following infection with Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite that invades both hemopoietic and nonhemopoietic cell lineages. Resistance to acute and persistent infection was displayed only by animals in which IFN-gamma receptors were expressed in both cellular compartments. Parallel chimera experiments performed with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-deficient mice also indicated a codependence on hemopoietic and nonhemopoietic lineages for optimal control of the parasite. In contrast, in mice chimeric for inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), an enzyme associated with IFN-gamma-induced macrophage microbicidal activity, expression by cells of hemopoietic origin was sufficient for host resistance. Together, these findings suggest that, in concert with bone marrow-derived effectors, nonhemopoietic cells can directly mediate, in the absence of endogenous iNOS, IFN-gamma- and TNF-alpha-dependent host resistance to intracellular infection. (+info)
Cellular microbiology: can we learn cell physiology from microorganisms?
Cellular microbiology is a new discipline that is emerging at the interface between cell biology and microbiology. The application of molecular techniques to the study of bacterial pathogenesis has made possible discoveries that are changing the way scientists view the bacterium-host interaction. Today, research on the molecular basis of the pathogenesis of infective diarrheal diseases of necessity transcends established boundaries between cell biology, bacteriology, intestinal pathophysiology, and immunology. The use of microbial pathogens to address questions in cell physiology is just now yielding promising applications and striking results. (+info)
Phase imaging by atomic force microscopy: analysis of living homoiothermic vertebrate cells.
Atomic force microscope-based phase imaging in air is capable of elucidating variations in material properties such as adhesion, friction, and viscoelasticity. However, the interpretation of phase images of specimens in a fluid environment requires clarification. In this report, we systematically analyzed atomic force microscope-derived phase images of mica, glass, and collagen under the same conditions as used for living cells at various tapping forces; the resulting data provide critical information for the interpretation of phase images of living cells. The peripheral regions of COS-1 cells consistently show a more negative phase shift than the glass substrate in phase images at set-point amplitude: free amplitude (Asp/A0) = 0.6-0.8. In addition, at all Asp/A0 values suitable for phase imaging, tapping frequency appears to be high enough to ensure that phase shifts are governed primarily by stiffness. Consequently, phase imaging is capable of high resolution studies of the cellular surface by detecting localized variations in stiffness. We demonstrate that phase imaging of a bifurcating fiber in COS-1 cell cytoplasm is readily capable of a lateral resolution of approximately 30 nm. (+info)
Single micro electrode dielectrophoretic tweezers for manipulation of suspended cells and particles.
Cells or particles in aqueous suspension close to a single capacitively coupled micro electrode (CCME) driven with high frequency electric fields experience dielectrophoretic forces. The effects near the CCME can be used for trapping and manipulation of single cells using externally metallised glass pipettes and might be used to develop a microscope based on force or capacitance measurements in conductive media. (+info)
Functional roles of S100 proteins, calcium-binding proteins of the EF-hand type.
A multigenic family of Ca2+-binding proteins of the EF-hand type known as S100 comprises 19 members that are differentially expressed in a large number of cell types. Members of this protein family have been implicated in the Ca2+-dependent (and, in some cases, Zn2+- or Cu2+-dependent) regulation of a variety of intracellular activities such as protein phosphorylation, enzyme activities, cell proliferation (including neoplastic transformation) and differentiation, the dynamics of cytoskeleton constituents, the structural organization of membranes, intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis, inflammation, and in protection from oxidative cell damage. Some S100 members are released or secreted into the extracellular space and exert trophic or toxic effects depending on their concentration, act as chemoattractants for leukocytes, modulate cell proliferation, or regulate macrophage activation. Structural data suggest that many S100 members exist within cells as dimers in which the two monomers are related by a two-fold axis of rotation and that Ca2+ binding induces in individual monomers the exposure of a binding surface with which S100 dimers are believed to interact with their target proteins. Thus, any S100 dimer is suggested to expose two binding surfaces on opposite sides, which renders homodimeric S100 proteins ideal for crossbridging two homologous or heterologous target proteins. Although in some cases different S100 proteins share their target proteins, in most cases a high degree of target specificity has been described, suggesting that individual S100 members might be implicated in the regulation of specific activities. On the other hand, the relatively large number of target proteins identified for a single S100 protein might depend on the specific role played by the individual regions that in an S100 molecule contribute to the formation of the binding surface. The pleiotropic roles played by S100 members, the identification of S100 target proteins, the analysis of functional correlates of S100-target protein interactions, and the elucidation of the three-dimensional structure of some S100 members have greatly increased the interest in S100 proteins and our knowledge of S100 protein biology in the last few years. S100 proteins probably are an example of calcium-modulated, regulatory proteins that intervene in the fine tuning of a relatively large number of specific intracellular and (in the case of some members) extracellular activities. Systems, including knock-out animal models, should be now used with the aim of defining the correspondence between the in vitro regulatory role(s) attributed to individual members of this protein family and the in vivo function(s) of each S100 protein. (+info)
The osmotic migration of cells in a solute gradient.
The effect of a nonuniform solute concentration on the osmotic transport of water through the boundaries of a simple model cell is investigated. A system of two ordinary differential equations is derived for the motion of a single cell in the limit of a fast solute diffusion, and an analytic solution is obtained for one special case. A two-dimensional finite element model has been developed to simulate the more general case (finite diffusion rates, solute gradient induced by a solidification front). It is shown that the cell moves to regions of lower solute concentration due to the uneven flux of water through the cell boundaries. This mechanism has apparently not been discussed previously. The magnitude of this effect is small for red blood cells, the case in which all of the relevant parameters are known. We show, however, that it increases with cell size and membrane permeability, so this effect could be important for larger cells. The finite element model presented should also have other applications in the study of the response of cells to an osmotic stress and for the interaction of cells and solidification fronts. Such investigations are of major relevance for the optimization of cryopreservation processes. (+info)
A polarization model overcoming the geometric restrictions of the laplace solution for spheroidal cells: obtaining new equations for field-induced forces and transmembrane potential.
We present a new model for a variety of electric polarization effects on oblate and prolate homogeneous and single-shell spheroids. For homogeneous spheroids the model is identical to the Laplace model. For single-shell spheres of cell-like geometry the calculated difference of the induced dipole moments is in the thousandths range. To solve Laplace's equation for nonspherical single-shell objects it is necessary to assume a confocal shell, which results in different cell membrane properties in the pole and equator regions, respectively. Our alternative model addresses this drawback. It assumes that the disturbance of the external field due to polarization may project into the medium to a characteristic distance, the influential radius. This parameter is related to the axis ratio of the spheroid over the depolarizing factors and allows us to determine the geometry for a finite resistor-capacitor model. From this model the potential at the spheroid's surface is obtained and, consequently, the local field inside a homogeneous spheroid is determined. In the single-shell case, this is the effective local field of an equivalent homogeneous spheroid. Finally, integration over the volume yields the frequency-dependent induced dipole moment. The resistor-capacitor approach allowed us to find simple equations for the critical and characteristic frequencies, force plateaus and peak heights of deformation, dielectrophoresis and electrorotation for homogeneous and single-shell spheroids, and a more generalized equation for the induced transmembrane potential of spheroidal cells. (+info)