Systems analysis of small signaling modules relevant to eight human diseases

Kelly F. Benedict, Feilim Mac Gabhann, Robert K. Amanfu, Arvind K. Chavali, Erwin P. Gianchandani, Lydia S. Glaw, Matthew A. Oberhardt, Bryan C. Thorne, Jason H. Yang, Jason A. Papin, Shayn M. Peirce, Jeffrey J. Saucerman, Thomas C. Skalak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Using eight newly generated models relevant to addiction, Alzheimer's disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV, heart disease, malaria, and tuberculosis, we show that systems analysis of small (4-25 species), bounded protein signaling modules rapidly generates new quantitative knowledge from published experimental research. For example, our models show that tumor sclerosis complex (TSC) inhibitors may be more effective than the rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors currently used to treat cancer, that HIV infection could be more effectively blocked by increasing production of the human innate immune response protein APOBEC3G, rather than targeting HIV's viral infectivity factor (Vif), and how peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) agonists used to treat dyslipidemia would most effectively stimulate PPARα signaling if drug design were to increase agonist nucleoplasmic concentration, as opposed to increasing agonist binding affinity for PPARα. Comparative analysis of system-level properties for all eight modules showed that a significantly higher proportion of concentration parameters fall in the top 15th percentile sensitivity ranking than binding affinity parameters. In infectious disease modules, host networks were significantly more sensitive to virulence factor concentration parameters compared to all other concentration parameters. This work supports the future use of this approach for informing the next generation of experimental roadmaps for known diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-635
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biomedical Engineering


  • Comparative meta-analysis
  • Human disease
  • Protein signaling
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Systems biology


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