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Phys Biol. 2012 Jun;9(3):036010. doi: 10.1088/1478-3975/9/3/036010. Epub 2012 Jun 8.

CaMKII activation and dynamics are independent of the holoenzyme structure: an infinite subunit holoenzyme approximation.

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Richard D Berlin Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030, USA.


The combinatorial explosion produced by the multi-state, multi-subunit character of CaMKII has made analysis and modeling of this key signaling protein a significant challenge. Using rule-based and particle-based approaches, we construct exact models of CaMKII holoenzyme dynamics and study these models as a function of the number of subunits per holoenzyme, N. Without phosphatases the dynamics of activation are independent of the holoenzyme structure unless phosphorylation significantly alters the kinase activity of a subunit. With phosphatases the model is independent of holoenzyme size for N > 6. We introduce an infinite subunit holoenzyme approximation (ISHA), which simplifies the modeling by eliminating the combinatorial complexities encountered in any finite holoenzyme model. The ISHA is an excellent approximation to the full system over a broad range of physiologically relevant parameters. Finally, we demonstrate that the ISHA reproduces the behavior of exact models during synaptic plasticity protocols, which justifies its use as a module in large models of synaptic plasticity.

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