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Research Highlights


Differences in the intrinsic spatial dynamics of the chromatin contribute to cell differentiation

Comparison with RNA-seq expression data reveals a strong overlap between highly expressed genes and those distinguished by high mobilities in the present study, in support of the role of the intrinsic spatial dynamics of chromatin as a determinant of cell differentiation. (Read more)



Nanoscale co-organization and coactivation of AMPAR, NMDAR, and mGluR at excitatory synapses

Work by TR&D2 Investigators and collaborators provide insights into the nanometer scale organization of postsynaptic glutamate receptors using a combination of dual-color superresolution imaging, electrophysiology, and computational modeling. (Read more)



Parallel Tempering with Lasso for model reduction in systems biology

TR&D3 Investigators and collaborators develop PTLasso, a Bayesian model reduction approach that combines Parallel Tempering with Lasso regularization, to automatically extract minimal subsets of detailed models that are sufficient to explain experimental data. On both synthetic and real biological data, PTLasso is an effective method to isolate distinct parts of a larger signaling model that are sufficient for specific data. (Read more)


Image-derived models of cell organization changes during differentiation and drug treatments

Our work on modeling PC12 cells undergoing differentiation into neuron-like morphologies (under C&SP11, completed) has been published in Molecular Biology of the Cell. We have also made the large dataset of 3D images collected in that study available through Dryad. (Read more)


Monoamine transporters: structure, intrinsic dynamics and allosteric regulation

T&RD1 investigators Mary Cheng and Ivet Bahar published an invited review article in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, addressing recent progress in the elucidation of the structural dynamics of MATs and their conformational landscape and transitions, as well as allosteric regulation mechanisms. (Read more)

Trimerization of dopamine transporter triggered by AIM-100 binding

The Bahar (TR&D1) and Sorkin (DBP3) labs explored the trimerization of dopamine transporter (DAT) triggered by a furopyrimidine, AIM-100, using a combination of computational and biochemical methods, and single-molecule live-cell imaging assays. (Read more)

Pre-post synaptic alignment through neuroligin-1 tunes synaptic transmission efficiency

TR&D2 investigators and collaborators describe organizing role of neuroligin-1 to align post-synaptic AMPA Receptors with pre-synaptic release sites into trans-synaptic “nano-columns” to enhance signaling.(Read more)

Inferring the Assembly Network of Influenza Virus

In an article in PLoS Computational Biology, MMBioS TR&D4 members Xiongto Ruan and Bob Murphy collaborated with Seema Lakdawala to address this question of the assembly network of the Influenza virus.(Read more)

PINK1 Interacts with VCP/p97 and Activates PKA to Promote NSFL1C/p47 Phosphorylation and Dendritic Arborization in Neurons

Our findings highlight an important mechanism by which proteins genetically implicated in Parkinson’s disease (PD; PINK1) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD; VCP) interact to support the health and maintenance of neuronal arbors.(Read more)

Improved methods for modeling cell shape

In a recent paper in Bioinformatics, Xiongtao Ruan and Bob Murphy of TR&D4 addressed the question of how best to model cell and nuclear shape.(Read more)

New tool to predict pathogenicity of missense variants based on structural dynamics: RHAPSODY

We demonstrated that the analysis of a protein’s intrinsic dynamics can be successfully used to improve the prediction of the effect of point mutations on a protein functionality. This method employs ANM/GNM tools (Read more)

New method for investigating chromatin structural dynamics.

By adapting the Gaussian Network Model (GNM) protein-modeling framework, we were able to model chromatin dynamics using Hi-C data, which led to the identification of novel cross-correlated distal domains (CCDDs) that were found to also be associated with increased gene co-expression.  (Read more)


Structural elements coupling anion conductance and substrate transport identified

We identified an intermediate anion channeling state (iChS) during the global transition from the outward facing (OF) to inward facing state (IFS). Our prediction was tested and validated by experimental study conducted in the Amara lab (NIMH). Critical residues and interactions were analyzed by SCAM, electrophysiology and substrate uptake experiments (Read more)

Integrating MMBioS technologies for multiscale discovery

TR&D teams driven by individual DBPs are naturally joining forces, integrating their tools to respond to the needs of the DBP, and creating integrative frameworks for combining structural and kinetic data and computing technologies at multiple scales.  (Read more)


Large scale visualization of rule-based models.

Signaling in living cells is mediated through a complex network of chemical interactions. Current predictive models of signal pathways have hundreds of reaction rules that specify chemical interactions, and a comprehensive model of a stem cell or cancer cell would be expected to have many more. Visualizations of rules and their interactions are needed to navigate, organize, communicate and analyze large signaling models.  (Read more)

Integration of MCellR into MCell/CellBlender

Using spatial biochemical models of SynGAP/PSD95, MMBioS investigators were able to merge the MCellR code-base with the MCell code-base and validate its utility and correctness of this sophisticated technology now easily accessible through the MCell/CellBlender GUI.  (Read more)



Causal relationships of spatial distributions of T cell signaling proteins

The idea is to identify a relationship in which a change in the concentration of one protein in one cell region consistently is associated with a change in the concentration of another protein in the same or a different region. We used the data from our Science Signaling paper reported last year to construct a model for T cells undergoing stimulation by both the T cell receptor and the costimulatory receptor. (Read more...)

T-Cell Receptor Signaling

BioNetGen modeling helps reveal immune system response decision

To attack or to let be is an important decision that our immune systems must make to protect our bodies from foreign invaders or protect bodily tissues from an immune attack. Using modeling and experiments, we have painted a sharper picture of how T cells make these critical decisions.  (Read more)




Tools for determining the spatial relationships between different cell components

An important task for understanding how cells are organized is determining which components have spatial patterns that are related to each other.Read more


4d rtd

Pipeline for creation of spatiotemporal maps

Using a combination of diffeomorphic methods and improved cell segmentation, we developed a CellOrganizer pipeline for use in DPB4 to construct models of the 4D distributions of actin and 8 of its regulators during the response of T cells to antigen presentation. Read more


Multi-scale Hybrid Methodology

The hybrid methodology, coMD, that we have recently developed [1] has been recently extended to construct the energy landscape near the functional states of LeuT (Fig 1) [2]. This is the first energy landscape constructed for this NSS family member. Read more


Insights into the cooperative dynamics of AMPAR

Comparative analysis of AMPAR and NMDAR dynamics reveals striking similarities, opening the way to designing new modulators of allosteric interactions. Read more

Improved Sampling of Cell-Scale Models using the WE Strategy

The WE strategy for orchestrating a large set of parallel simulations has now been extended to spatially resolved cell-scale systems. The WESTPA implementation of WE has been used to control MCell simulations, including models built using a BioNetGen-CellOrganizer pipeline for situating complex biochemistry within spatially realistic cell models. Read more

Mouse visual cortex
Anatomy and Function of an Excitatory Network in the Visual Cortex

MMBioS researcher Greg Hood’s collaboration with Wei-Chung Allen Lee of Harvard University and R. Clay Reid of the Allen Institute for Brain Science concerning the reconstruction of an excitatory nerve-cell network in the mouse brain cortex at a subcellular level using the AlignTK software has been published in Nature. Read more


Molecular Mechanism of Dopamine Transport by hDAT

Dopamine transporters (DATs) control neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) homeostasis by reuptake of excess DA, assisted by sodium and chloride ions. The recent resolution of DAT structure (dDAT) from Drosophila permits us for the first time to directly view the sequence of events involved in DA reuptake in human DAT (hDAT). Read more




figure good 170Synaptic Facilitation Revealed

An investigation of several mechanisms of short-term facilitation at the frog neuromuscular junction concludes that the presence of a second class of calcium sensor proteins distinct from synaptotagmin can explain known properties of facilitation. Read more


langmead2 200Sparse Graphical Models of Protein:Protein Interactions

DgSpi is a new method for learning and using graphical models that explicitly represent the amino acid basis for interaction specificity and extend earlier classification-oriented approaches to predict ΔG of binding. Read more


Picture1 180Advancing Parallel Bio-simulations

A new non-Markovian analysis can eliminate bias in estimates of long-timescale behavior, such as the mean first-passage time for the dissociation of methane molecules in explicit solvent. Read more


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