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Math Biosci. 2007 Aug;208(2):607-20. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Estimating parameters for generalized mass action models using constraint propagation.

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Department of Mathematics, Uppsala University, Box 480, Uppsala, Sweden.


As modern molecular biology moves towards the analysis of biological systems as opposed to their individual components, the need for appropriate mathematical and computational techniques for understanding the dynamics and structure of such systems is becoming more pressing. For example, the modeling of biochemical systems using ordinary differential equations (ODEs) based on high-throughput, time-dense profiles is becoming more common-place, which is necessitating the development of improved techniques to estimate model parameters from such data. Due to the high dimensionality of this estimation problem, straight-forward optimization strategies rarely produce correct parameter values, and hence current methods tend to utilize genetic/evolutionary algorithms to perform non-linear parameter fitting. Here, we describe a completely deterministic approach, which is based on interval analysis. This allows us to examine entire sets of parameters, and thus to exhaust the global search within a finite number of steps. In particular, we show how our method may be applied to a generic class of ODEs used for modeling biochemical systems called Generalized Mass Action Models (GMAs). In addition, we show that for GMAs our method is amenable to the technique in interval arithmetic called constraint propagation, which allows great improvement of its efficiency. To illustrate the applicability of our method we apply it to some networks of biochemical reactions appearing in the literature, showing in particular that, in addition to estimating system parameters in the absence of noise, our method may also be used to recover the topology of these networks.

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