A quantitative modular modeling approach reveals the effects of different A20 feedback implementations for the NF-κB signaling dynamics


  • J. Mothes
  • I. Ipenberg
  • S.Ç. Arslan
  • U. Benary
  • C. Scheidereit
  • J. Wolf


  • Frontiers in Physiology


  • Front Physiol 11: 896


  • Signaling pathways involve complex molecular interactions and are controled by non-linear regulatory mechanisms. If details of regulatory mechanisms are not fully elucidated, they can be implemented by different, equally reasonable mathematical representations in computational models. The study presented here focusses on NF-κB signaling, which is regulated by negative feedbacks via IκBα and A20. A20 inhibits NF-κB activation indirectly through interference with proteins that transduce the signal from the TNF receptor complex to activate the IκB kinase (IKK) complex. A number of pathway models has been developed implementing the A20 effect in different ways. We here focus on the question how different A20 feedback implementations impact the dynamics of NF-κB. To this end, we develop a modular modeling approach that allows combining previously published A20 modules with a common pathway core module. The resulting models are fitted to a published comprehensive experimental data set and therefore show quantitatively comparable NF-κB dynamics. Based on defined measures for the initial and long-term behavior we analyze the effects of a wide range of changes in the A20 feedback strength, the IκBα feedback strength and the TNFα stimulation strength on NF-κB dynamics. This shows similarities between the models but also model-specific differences. In particular, the A20 feedback strength and the TNFα stimulation strength affect initial and long-term NF-κB concentrations differently in the analyzed models. We validated our model predictions experimentally by varying TNFα concentrations applied to HeLa cells. These time course data indicate that only one of the A20 feedback models appropriately describes the impact of A20 on the NF-κB dynamics in this cell type.