Models, machine learning, and robotics: understanding biological networks 15:10 Fri 16 Mar, 2018 :: Horace Lamb 1022 :: Prof Steve Oliver :: University of Cambridge
The availability of complete genome sequences has enabled the construction of computer models of metabolic networks that may be used to predict the impact of genetic mutations on growth and survival. Both logical and constraint-based models of the metabolic network of the model eukaryote, the ale yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, have been available for some time and are continually being improved by the research community. While such models are very successful at predicting the impact of deleting single genes, the prediction of the impact of higher order genetic interactions is a greater challenge. Initial studies of limited gene sets provided encouraging results. However, the availability of comprehensive experimental data for the interactions between genes involved in metabolism demonstrated that, while the models were able to predict the general properties of the genetic interaction network, their ability to predict interactions between specific pairs of metabolic genes was poor. I will examine the reasons for this poor performance and demonstrate ways of improving the accuracy of the models by exploiting the techniques of machine learning and robotics.
The utility of these metabolic models rests on the firm foundations of genome sequencing data. However, there are two major problems with these kinds of network models - there is no dynamics, and they do not deal with the uncertain and incomplete nature of much biological data. To deal with these problems, we have developed the Flexible Nets (FNs) modelling formalism. FNs were inspired by Petri Nets and can deal with missing or uncertain data, incorporate both dynamics and regulation, and also have the potential for model predictive control of biotechnological processes.