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.
Abstract: CD8 T-cells are critical in controlling infection by intracellular pathogens. Upon encountering antigen presenting cells, T-cell receptor activation promotes the differentiation of naïve CD8 T-cells into strongly proliferating activated and effector stages. We propose a 2D-multiscale computational model to study the maturation of CD8 T-cells in a lymph node controlled by their molecular profile. A novel molecular pathway is presented and converted into an ordinary differential equation model, coupled with a cellular Potts model to describe cell-cell interactions. Key molecular players such as activated IL2 receptor and Tbet levels control the differentiation from naïve into activated and effector stages, respectively, while caspases and Fas-Fas ligand interactions control cell apoptosis. Coupling this molecular model to the cellular scale successfully reproduces qualitatively the evolution of total CD8 T-cell counts observed in mice lymph node, between Day 3 and 5.5 post-infection. Furthermore, this model allows us to make testable predictions of the evolution of the different CD8 T-cell stages.
Abstract: In this review article, we discuss the current state of computational modelling of the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-ΚB) signalling pathway. NF-ΚB is a transcription factor, which is ubiquitous within cells and controls a number of immune responses, including inflammation and apoptosis. The NF-ΚB signalling pathway is tightly regulated, commencing with activation at the cell membrane, signal transduction through various components within the cytoplasm, translocation of NF-ΚB into the nucleus and, finally, the transcription of various genes relating to the innate and adaptive immune responses. There have been a number of computational (mathematical) models developed of the signalling pathway over the past decade. This review describes how these approaches have helped advance our understanding of NF-ΚB control.
Abstract: Characterizing the mechanisms of duplicate gene retention using phylogenetic methods requires models that are consistent with different biological processes. The interplay between complex biological processes and necessarily simpler statistical models leads to a complex modeling problem. A discussion of the relationship between biological processes, existing models for duplicate gene retention and data is presented. Existing models are then extended in deriving two new birth/death models for phylogenetic application in a gene tree/species tree reconciliation framework to enable probabilistic inference of the mechanisms from model parameterization. The goal of this work is to synthesize a detailed discussion of modeling duplicate genes to address biological questions, moving from previous work to future trajectories with the aim of generating better models and better inference.
Abstract: Ergopeptides, like ergocornine and a-ergocryptine, exist in an S- and in an R-configuration. Kinetic experiments imply that certain configurations are preferred depending on the solvent. The experimental methods are explained in this article. Furthermore, computational methods are used to understand this configurational preference. Standard quantum chemical methods can predict the favored configurations by using minimum energy calculations on the potential energy landscape. However, the explicit role of the solvent is not revealed by this type of methods. In order to better understand its influence, classical mechanical molecular simulations are applied. It appears from our research that “folding” the ergopeptide molecules into an intermediate state (between the S- and the R-configuration) is mechanically hindered for the preferred configurations.