Cellular defense processes regulated by pathogen-elicited receptor signaling

Vertebrates are constantly threatened by the invasion of microorganisms and have evolved systems of immunity to eliminate infectious pathogens in the body. Initial sensing of microbial agents is mediated by the recognition of pathogens by means of molecular structures expressed uniquely by microbes of a given type. So-called 'Toll-like receptors' are expressed on host epithelial barrier cells play an essential role in the host defense against microbial pathogens by inducing cell responses (e.g., proliferation, death, cytokine secretion) via activation of intracellular signaling networks. As these networks, comprising multiple interconnecting dynamic pathways, represent highly complex multi-variate "information processing" systems, the signaling activities particularly critical for governing the host cell responses are poorly understood and not easily ascertained by a priori theoretical notions. We have developed over the past half-decade a "data-driven" computational modeling approach, on a 'cue-signal-response' combined experiment/computation paradigm, to elucidate key multi-variate signaling relationships governing the cell responses. In an example presented here, we study how a canonical set of six kinase pathways combine to effect microbial agent-induced apoptotic death of a macrophage cell line. One modeling technique, partial least-squares regression, yielded the following key insights: {a} signal combinations most strongly correlated to apoptotic death are orthogonal to those most strongly correlated with release of inflammatory cytokines; {b} the ratio of two key pathway activities is the most powerful predictor of microbe-induced macrophage apoptotic death; {c} the most influential time-window of this signaling activity ratio is surprisingly fast: less than one hour after microbe stimulation.

Wu, R., Goldsipe, A., Schauer, D., Lauffenburger, D.
Proceedings of the 2011 SPIE Biosystems Conference
Date: June, 2011
ICB Affiliated Authors: Douglas A Lauffenburger