Abstract: A large and growing body of research implicates aberrant immune response and compositional shifts of the intestinal microbiota in the pathogenesis of many intestinal disorders. The molecular and physical interaction between the host and the microbiota, known as the host-microbiota interactome, is one of the key drivers in the pathophysiology of many of these disorders. This host-microbiota interactome is a set of dynamic and complex processes, and needs to be treated as a distinct entity and subject for study. Disentangling this complex web of interactions will require novel approaches, using a combination of data-driven bioinformatics with knowledge-driven computational modeling. This review describes the computational approaches for investigating the host-microbiota interactome, with emphasis on the human intestinal tract and innate immunity, and highlights open challenges and existing gaps in the computation methodology for advancing our knowledge about this important facet of human health.
Abstract: The identification of suitable model parameters for biochemical reactions has been recognized as a quite difficult endeavor. Parameter values from literature or experiments can often not directly be combined in complex reaction systems. Nature-inspired optimization techniques can find appropriate sets of parameters that calibrate a model to experimentally obtained time series data. We present SBMLsimulator, a tool that combines the Systems Biology Simulation Core Library for dynamic simulation of biochemical models with the heuristic optimization framework EvA2. SBMLsimulator provides an intuitive graphical user interface with various options as well as a fully-featured command-line interface for large-scale and script-based model simulation and calibration. In a parameter estimation study based on a published model and artificial data we demonstrate the capability of SBMLsimulator to identify parameters. SBMLsimulator is useful for both, the interactive simulation and exploration of the parameter space and for the large-scale model calibration and estimation of uncertain parameter values.
Abstract: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are a class of transposable elements found in all vertebrate genomes that contribute substantially to genomic functional and structural diversity. A host species acquires an ERV when an exogenous retrovirus infects a germ cell of an individual and becomes part of the genome inherited by viable progeny. ERVs that colonized ancestral lineages are fixed in contemporary species. However, in some extant species, ERV colonization is ongoing, which results in variation in ERV frequency in the population. To study the consequences of ERV colonization of a host genome, methods are needed to assign each ERV to a location in a species’ genome and determine which individuals have acquired each ERV by descent. Because well annotated reference genomes are not widely available for all species, de novo clustering approaches provide an alternative to reference mapping that are insensitive to differences between query and reference and that are amenable to mobile element studies in both model and non-model organisms. However, there is substantial uncertainty in both identifying ERV genomic position and assigning each unique ERV integration site to individuals in a population. We present an analysis suitable for detecting ERV integration sites in species without the need for a reference genome. Our approach is based on improved de novo clustering methods and statistical models that take the uncertainty of assignment into account and yield a probability matrix of shared ERV integration sites among individuals. We demonstrate that polymorphic integrations of a recently identified endogenous retrovirus in deer reflect contemporary relationships among individuals and populations.
Abstract: In population genetics, parameters describing forces such as mutation, migration and drift are generally inferred from molecular data. Lately, approximate methods based on simulations and summary statistics have been widely applied for such inference, even though these methods waste information. In contrast, probabilistic methods of inference can be shown to be optimal, if their assumptions are met. In genomic regions where recombination rates are high relative to mutation rates, polymorphic nucleotide sites can be assumed to evolve independently from each other. The distribution of allele frequencies at a large number of such sites has been called “allele-frequency spectrum” or “site-frequency spectrum” (SFS). Conditional on the allelic proportions, the likelihoods of such data can be modeled as binomial. A simple model representing the evolution of allelic proportions is the biallelic mutation-drift or mutation-directional selection-drift diffusion model. With series of orthogonal polynomials, specifically Jacobi and Gegenbauer polynomials, or the related spheroidal wave function, the diffusion equations can be solved efficiently. In the neutral case, the product of the binomial likelihoods with the sum of such polynomials leads to finite series of polynomials, i.e., relatively simple equations, from which the exact likelihoods can be calculated. In this article, the use of orthogonal polynomials for inferring population genetic parameters is investigated.
Abstract: Over the years, as more complete poxvirus genomes have been sequenced, phylogenetic studies of these viruses have become more prevalent. In general, the results show similar relationships between the poxvirus species; however, some inconsistencies are notable. Previous analyses of the viral genomes contained within the vaccinia virus (VACV)-Dryvax vaccine revealed that their phylogenetic relationships were sometimes clouded by low bootstrapping confidence. To analyze the VACV-Dryvax genomes in detail, a new tool-set was developed and integrated into the Base-By-Base bioinformatics software package. Analyses showed that fewer unique positions were present in each VACV-Dryvax genome than expected. A series of patterns, each containing several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified that were counter to the results of the phylogenetic analysis. The VACV genomes were found to contain short DNA sequence blocks that matched more distantly related clades. Additionally, similar non-conforming SNP patterns were observed in (1) the variola virus clade; (2) some cowpox clades; and (3) VACV-CVA, the direct ancestor of VACV-MVA. Thus, traces of past recombination events are common in the various orthopoxvirus clades, including those associated with smallpox and cowpox viruses.