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Biophys J. 1997 Sep;73(3):1135-46.

A general computational framework for modeling cellular structure and function.

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Center for Biomedical Imaging Technology, Department of Physiology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington 06030-1269, USA.


The "Virtual Cell" provides a general system for testing cell biological mechanisms and creates a framework for encapsulating the burgeoning knowledge base comprising the distribution and dynamics of intracellular biochemical processes. It approaches the problem by associating biochemical and electrophysiological data describing individual reactions with experimental microscopic image data describing their subcellular localizations. Individual processes are collected within a physical and computational infrastructure that accommodates any molecular mechanism expressible as rate equations or membrane fluxes. An illustration of the method is provided by a dynamic simulation of IP3-mediated Ca2+ release from endoplasmic reticulum in a neuronal cell. The results can be directly compared to experimental observations and provide insight into the role of experimentally inaccessible components of the overall mechanism.

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