At Brighton and Sussex Medical School, The University of Sussex
We’re tackling cancer with systems biology, in the beautiful city of Brighton, UK.
Our interdisciplinary approach aims to bring systems biology approaches to the clinic.
to represent cell signaling
to simulate disease
to test predictions
to improve treatments
The nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) system is critical for various biological functions in numerous cell types, including the inflammatory response, cell proliferation, survival, differentiation, and pathogenic responses. Each cell type is characterized by a subset of 15 NF-κB dimers whose activity is regulated in a stimulus-responsive manner. Numerous studies have produced different mathematical models that account for cell type–specific NF-κB activities. However, whereas the concentrations or abundances of NF-κB subunits may differ between cell types, the biochemical interactions that constitute the NF-κB signaling system do not. Here, we synthesized a consensus mathematical model of the NF-κB multidimer system, which could account for the cell type–specific repertoires of NF-κB dimers and their cell type–specific activation and cross-talk. Our review demonstrates that these distinct cell type–specific properties of NF-κB signaling can be explained largely as emergent effects of the cell type–specific expression of NF-κB monomers. The consensus systems model represents a knowledge base that may be used to gain insights into the control and function of NF-κB in diverse physiological and pathological scenarios and that describes a path for generating similar regulatory knowledge bases for other pleiotropic signaling systems.
Humoral immunity depends on efficient activation of B cells and their subsequent differentiation into antibody-secreting cells (ASCs). The transcription factor NFκB cRel is critical for B cell proliferation, but incorporating its known regulatory interactions into a mathematical model of the ASC differentiation circuit prevented ASC generation in simulations. Indeed, experimental ectopic cRel expression blocked ASC differentiation by inhibiting the transcription factor Blimp1, and in wild-type (WT) cells cRel was dynamically repressed during ASC differentiation by Blimp1 binding the Rel locus. Including this bi-stable circuit of mutual cRel-Blimp1 antagonism into a multi-scale model revealed that dynamic repression of cRel controls the switch from B cell proliferation to ASC generation phases and hence the respective cell population dynamics. Our studies provide a mechanistic explanation of how dysregulation of this bi-stable circuit might result in pathologic B cell population phenotypes and thus offer new avenues for diagnostic stratification and treatment.