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AIChE J. 2014 Apr;60(4):1253-1268. Epub 2014 Mar 5.

Comparison of Parameter Estimation Methods in Stochastic Chemical Kinetic Models: Examples in Systems Biology.

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Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1415 Engineering Drive, Madison, WI 53705.


Stochastic chemical kinetics has become a staple for mechanistically modeling various phenomena in systems biology. These models, even more so than their deterministic counterparts, pose a challenging problem in the estimation of kinetic parameters from experimental data. As a result of the inherent randomness involved in stochastic chemical kinetic models, the estimation methods tend to be statistical in nature. Three classes of estimation methods are implemented and compared in this paper. The first is the exact method, which uses the continuous-time Markov chain representation of stochastic chemical kinetics and is tractable only for a very restricted class of problems. The next class of methods is based on Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) techniques. The third method, termed conditional density importance sampling (CDIS), is a new method introduced in this paper. The use of these methods is demonstrated on two examples taken from systems biology, one of which is a new model of single-cell viral infection. The applicability, strengths and weaknesses of the three classes of estimation methods are discussed. Using simulated data for the two examples, some guidelines are provided on experimental design to obtain more information from a limited number of measurements.


Bayesian inference; computational modeling; parameter estimation; stochastic chemical kinetics; systems biology

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