Topological descriptors of the parameter region of multistationarity: Deciding upon connectivity

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Switch-like responses arising from bistability have been linked to cell signaling processes and memory. Revealing the shape and properties of the set of parameters that lead to bistability is necessary to understand the underlying biological mechanisms, but is a complex mathematical problem. We present an efficient approach to address a basic topological property of the parameter region of multistationary, namely whether it is connected. The connectivity of this region can be interpreted in terms of the biological mechanisms underlying bistability and the switch-like patterns that the system can create. We provide an algorithm to assert that the parameter region of multistationarity is connected, targeting reaction networks with mass-action kinetics. We show that this is the case for numerous relevant cell signaling motifs, previously described to exhibit bistability. The method relies on linear programming and bypasses the expensive computational cost of direct and generic approaches to study parametric polynomial systems. This characteristic makes it suitable for mass-screening of reaction networks. Although the algorithm can only be used to certify connectivity, we illustrate that the ideas behind the algorithm can be adapted on a case-by-case basis to also decide that the region is not connected. In particular, we show that for a motif displaying a phosphorylation cycle with allosteric enzyme regulation, the region of multistationarity has two distinct connected components, corresponding to two different, but symmetric, biological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010970
JournalPLOS Computational Biology
Issue number3
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2023

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Copyright: © 2023 Telek, Feliu. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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