Context-specific network modeling identifies new crosstalk in β-adrenergic cardiac hypertrophy

by Ali Khalilimeybodi, Alexander M. Paap, Steven L. M. Christiansen, Jeffrey J. Saucerman

Cardiac hypertrophy is a context-dependent phenomenon wherein a myriad of biochemical and biomechanical factors regulate myocardial growth through a complex large-scale signaling network. Although numerous studies have investigated hypertrophic signaling pathways, less is known about hypertrophy signaling as a whole network and how this network acts in a context-dependent manner. Here, we developed a systematic approach, CLASSED (Context-specific Logic-bASed Signaling nEtwork Development), to revise a large-scale signaling model based on context-specific data and identify main reactions and new crosstalks regulating context-specific response. CLASSED involves four sequential stages with an automated validation module as a core which builds a logic-based ODE model from the interaction graph and outputs the model validation percent. The context-specific model is developed by estimation of default parameters, classified qualitative validation, hybrid Morris-Sobol global sensitivity analysis, and discovery of missing context-dependent crosstalks. Applying this pipeline to our prior-knowledge hypertrophy network with context-specific data revealed key signaling reactions which distinctly regulate cell response to isoproterenol, phenylephrine, angiotensin II and stretch. Furthermore, with CLASSED we developed a context-specific model of β-adrenergic cardiac hypertrophy. The model predicted new crosstalks between calcium/calmodulin-dependent pathways and upstream signaling of Ras in the ISO-specific context. Experiments in cardiomyocytes validated the model’s predictions on the role of CaMKII-Gβγ and CaN-Gβγ interactions in mediating hypertrophic signals in ISO-specific context and revealed a difference in the phosphorylation magnitude and translocation of ERK1/2 between cardiac myocytes and fibroblasts. CLASSED is a systematic approach for developing context-specific large-scale signaling networks, yielding insights into new-found crosstalks in β-adrenergic cardiac hypertrophy.

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