FlyClockbase: Importance of Biological Model Curation for Analyzing Variability in the Circadian Clock of Drosophila melanogaster by Integrating Time Series from 25 Years of Research [article]

Katherine S. Scheuer, Bret Hanlon, Jerdon W. Dresel, Erik D. Nolan, John C. Davis, Laurence Loewe
2017 bioRxiv   pre-print
Biological model curation provides new insights by integrating biological knowledge-fragments, assessing their uncertainty, and analyzing the reliability of potential interpretations. Here we integrate published results about circadian clocks in Drosophila melanogaster while exploring economies of scale in biological model curation. Clocks govern rhythms of gene-expression that impact fitness, health, cancer, memory, mental functions, and more. Human clock insights have been repeatedly
more » ... in flies. Flies simplify investigating complex gene regulatory networks, which express proteins cyclically using environmentally entrained interlocking feedback loops that act as clocks. Simulations could simplify research further. We found that very few computational models test their quality directly against experimentally observed time series scattered in the literature. We designed FlyClockbase for integrating such scattered data to enable robust efficient access for biologists and modelers. To this end we have been defining data structures that simplify the construction and maintenance of Versioned Biological Information Resources (VBIRs) that prioritize simplicity, openness, and therefore maintainability. We aim to simplify the preservation of more raw data and relevant annotations from experiments in order to multiply the long-term value of wet-lab datasets for modelers interested in meta-analyses, parameter estimates, and hypothesis testing. Currently FlyClockbase contains over 400 wildtype time series of core circadian components systematically curated from 86 studies published between 1990 and 2015. Using FlyClockbase, we show that PERIOD protein amount peak time variance unexpectedly exceeds that of TIMELESS. We hypothesize that PERIOD's exceedingly more complex phosphorylation rules are responsible. Variances of daily event times are easily confounded by errors. We improved result reliability by a human error analysis of our data handling; this revealed significance-degrading outliers, possibly violating a presumed absence of wildtype heterogeneity or lab evolution. Separate analyses revealed elevated stochasticity in PCR-based peak time variances; yet our reported core difference in peak time variances appears robust. Our study demonstrates how biological model curation enhances the understanding of circadian clocks. It also highlights diverse broader challenges that are likely to become recurrent themes if models in molecular systems biology aim to integrate 'all relevant knowledge'. We developed a trans-disciplinary workflow, which demonstrates the importance of developing compilers for VBIRs with a more biology-friendly logic that is likely to greatly simplify biological model curation. Curation-limited grand challenges, including personalizing medicine, critically depend on such progress if they are indeed to integrate 'all relevant knowledge'.
doi:10.1101/099192 fatcat:446gqznfofdo3pyuzgvst7bolm