New computational method to uncover gene regulation

Apr 23, 2010

Scientists have developed a new computational model to uncover gene regulation, the key to how our body develops - and how it can go wrong.

The researchers, from The University of Manchester (UK), Aalto University (Finland) and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory Heidelberg (Germany), say the new method identifies targets of regulator .

The contains instructions for making all the cells in our body. An individual cell's make up (e.g. muscle or blood) depends on how these instructions are read. This is controlled by gene regulatory mechanisms. Uncovering these mechanisms holds a key to greatly improving our understanding of biological systems.

One important is based on genes that actively promote or repress the activity of other genes. The new research addresses the problem of identifying the targets these regulator genes affect.

The new method, presented in the latest edition of (PNAS), is based on careful modelling of time series measurements of . It combines a simple biochemical model of the cell with probabilistic modelling to deal with incomplete and uncertain measurements.

Dr Magnus Rattray, a senior researcher at Manchester's Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: "Combining biochemical and probabilistic modelling techniques as done here holds great promise for the future. Many systems we are looking at now are too complex for purely physical models and connecting to experimental data in a principled manner is essential."

Dr Antti Honkela, his colleague at Aalto University School of Science and Technology, added: "A major contribution of our work is to show how data-driven machine learning techniques can be used to uncover physical models of cell regulation. This demonstrates how data-driven modelling can clearly benefit from the incorporation of physical modelling ideas."

Explore further: Are my muscular dystrophy drugs working?

Related Stories

Learning the language of gene expression

Jan 19, 2007

Researchers have taken a major step towards understanding the language of gene regulation in the fruitfly Drosophila and they expect the technique to be rapidly applicable to understanding the effects of genome variation ...

Recommended for you

Are my muscular dystrophy drugs working?

3 hours ago

People with muscular dystrophy could one day assess the effectiveness of their medication with the help of a smartphone-linked device, a new study in mice suggests. The study used a new method to process ...

Cell death proteins key to fighting disease

14 hours ago

Melbourne researchers have uncovered key steps involved in programmed cell death, offering new targets for the treatment of diseases including lupus, cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

Unlocking the secrets of pulmonary hypertension

Oct 30, 2014

A UAlberta team has discovered that a protein that plays a critical role in metabolism, the process by which the cell generates energy from foods, is important for the development of pulmonary hypertension, a deadly disease.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.