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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2013 Sep;113(1):33-45. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2013.03.010. Epub 2013 Apr 2.

Rule-based modeling and simulations of the inner kinetochore structure.

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Bio Systems Analysis Group, Institute of Computer Science, Jena Centre for Bioinformatics and Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany. Electronic address:



Combinatorial complexity is a central problem when modeling biochemical reaction networks, since the association of a few components can give rise to a large variation of protein complexes. Available classical modeling approaches are often insufficient for the analysis of very large and complex networks in detail. Recently, we developed a new rule-based modeling approach that facilitates the analysis of spatial and combinatorially complex problems. Here, we explore for the first time how this approach can be applied to a specific biological system, the human kinetochore, which is a multi-protein complex involving over 100 proteins.


Applying our freely available SRSim software to a large data set on kinetochore proteins in human cells, we construct a spatial rule-based simulation model of the human inner kinetochore. The model generates an estimation of the probability distribution of the inner kinetochore 3D architecture and we show how to analyze this distribution using information theory. In our model, the formation of a bridge between CenpA and an H3 containing nucleosome only occurs efficiently for higher protein concentration realized during S-phase but may be not in G1. Above a certain nucleosome distance the protein bridge barely formed pointing towards the importance of chromatin structure for kinetochore complex formation. We define a metric for the distance between structures that allow us to identify structural clusters. Using this modeling technique, we explore different hypothetical chromatin layouts.


Applying a rule-based network analysis to the spatial kinetochore complex geometry allowed us to integrate experimental data on kinetochore proteins, suggesting a 3D model of the human inner kinetochore architecture that is governed by a combinatorial algebraic reaction network. This reaction network can serve as bridge between multiple scales of modeling. Our approach can be applied to other systems beyond kinetochores.


3D space; Chromatin structure; Kinetochore; Modeling; Rule-based; SRSim software; Simulation

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