Legitimacy of the stochastic Michaelis-Menten approximation

Michaelis-Menten kinetics are commonly used to represent enzyme-catalysed reactions in biochemical models. The Michaelis-Menten approximation has been thoroughly studied in the context of traditional differential equation models. The presence of small concentrations in biochemical systems, however, encourages the conversion to a discrete stochastic representation. It is shown that the Michaelis-Menten approximation is applicable in discrete stochastic models and that the validity conditions are the same as in the deterministic regime. The authors then compare the Michaelis-Menten approximation to a procedure called the slow-scale stochastic simulation algorithm (ssSSA). The theory underlying the ssSSA implies a formula that seems in some cases to be different from the well-known Michaelis-Menten formula. Here those differences are examined, and some special cases of the stochastic formulas are confirmed using a first-passage time analysis. This exercise serves to place the conventional Michaelis-Menten formula in a broader rigorous theoretical framework.

Sanft, K., Gillespie, D., Petzold, L.
IET Systems Biology
Volume: 54
Number: 1
Pages: 58-69
Date: January, 2011
ICB Affiliated Authors: Linda R Petzold