Event Abstract

Statistical uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of intracellular signaling models - through approximate Bayesian computation and variance based global sensitivity analysis

  • 1 Contributed equally to this work, Sweden
  • 2 Stockholm University, Department of Numerical Analysis and Computer Science, Sweden
  • 3 AstraZeneca AB R&D, Early Clinical Biometrics, Sweden
  • 4 Lund University, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Sweden
  • 5 KTH Royal Institute of Technology, School of Computer Science and Communication, Sweden
  • 6 Karolinska Institute, Department of Neuroscience, Sweden

Computational dynamical models describing intracellular signaling pathways of nerve cells are increasing in size and complexity as more information is obtained from experiments. Models describing protein interactions within neurons can contain over hundred protein reactions [1, 2]. These models are built from knowledge about the interaction topology, inferred from e.g. gene knock-out experiments, as well as from experimental quantitative data describing the input-output relationship of the observed system. The quantitative data are often sparse as compared to the size of the system, and translating the experimental information into dynamical models often results in large uncertainties in the parameter (e.g reaction rates) values. This uncertainty is partly due to the sparseness in experimental time series data (practical unidentifiability), but it is also an intrinsic feature of the modeled system (structural unidentifiability) and could reflect the possibility for biological variation [3]; in many biological systems the same function can be achieved in partly different ways due to degeneracy and redundancy. Here we investigate the extent of this parameter uncertainty, in a model describing calcium (Ca)-dependent activation of Calmodulin (CaM), Protein phosphatase 2B (PP2B) and Ca/CaM-dependent protein kinase II (CamKII) [4], which is an intracellular pathway of importance to synaptic plasticity. We presume that the structure of the model is correct and then characterize the uncertainty in the parameters based on data. This is done by sampling the subspace of parameter values which has an equally good fit to data (corresponding to the “viable space” in [5]), through a statistical approach known as Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) with Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) [6]. ABC has been proposed for parameter estimation in system biology models previously, albeit in slightly different settings, e.g. [7, 8], and can be applied to a wide range of problems. In order to characterize the viable space efficiently with several experimental datasets, we employ multivariate probability distributions called copulas as a part of the ABC sampling. The result is a multivariate posterior distribution for the parameters, which represents how much they are constrained by the data (i.e. the uncertainty) as illustrated in Figure 1 (pairwise plots of viable space for four parameters indicating constraints and dependencies before and after calibration to data). The next step is to look into how the parameter uncertainty is translated to uncertainty of the predictions made from the model. We also investigate the role and importance of different parameters, with respect to different model outputs including the predictions, by means of global sensitivity analysis [9]. Figure 2 illustrates the sensitivity of one of the outputs calculated by a method based on the decomposition of the variance [10, 11, 12], showing different types of sensitivity measures. Finally, we explore how the sensitivity of different subsets of parameters change as different parts of the viable space are investigated, which is shown in Figure 3, where sensitivity profiles are clustered into groups with different sensitivity characteristics.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3


This research was supported by funding from the Swedish e-Science Research Centre and the Human Brain Project


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Keywords: sensitivity analysis, Approximate Bayesian Computation, copulas, intracellular signalling, Dynamical Modeling, global sensitivity analysis, Markov chain Monte Carlo, variance decomposition

Conference: Neuroinformatics 2016, Reading, United Kingdom, 3 Sep - 4 Sep, 2016.

Presentation Type: Investigator presentations

Topic: Computational neuroscience

Citation: Eriksson O, Jauhiainen A, Maad Sasane S, Nair A, Sartorius C and Hellgren Kotaleski J (2016). Statistical uncertainty and sensitivity analysis of intracellular signaling models - through approximate Bayesian computation and variance based global sensitivity analysis. Front. Neuroinform. Conference Abstract: Neuroinformatics 2016. doi: 10.3389/conf.fninf.2016.20.00014

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Received: 31 May 2016; Published Online: 18 Jul 2016.

* Correspondence: PhD. Olivia Eriksson, Contributed equally to this work, Stockholm, Sweden, olivia@kth.se