Modeling and measurement of signaling outcomes affecting decision making in noisy intracellular networks using machine learning methods

Mustafa Ozen, Tomasz Lipniacki, Andre Levchenko, Effat S. Emamian, Ali Abdi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Characterization of decision-making in cells in response to received signals is of importance for understanding how cell fate is determined. The problem becomes multi-faceted and complex when we consider cellular heterogeneity and dynamics of biochemical processes. In this paper, we present a unified set of decision-theoretic, machine learning and statistical signal processing methods and metrics to model the precision of signaling decisions, in the presence of uncertainty, using single cell data. First, we introduce erroneous decisions that may result from signaling processes and identify false alarms and miss events associated with such decisions. Then, we present an optimal decision strategy which minimizes the total decision error probability. Additionally, we demonstrate how graphing receiver operating characteristic curves conveniently reveals the trade-off between false alarm and miss probabilities associated with different cell responses. Furthermore, we extend the introduced framework to incorporate the dynamics of biochemical processes and reactions in a cell, using multi-time point measurements and multi-dimensional outcome analysis and decision-making algorithms. The introduced multivariate signaling outcome modeling framework can be used to analyze several molecular species measured at the same or different time instants. We also show how the developed binary outcome analysis and decision-making approach can be extended to more than two possible outcomes. As an example and to show how the introduced methods can be used in practice, we apply them to single cell data of PTEN, an important intracellular regulatory molecule in a p53 system, in wild-type and abnormal cells. The unified signaling outcome modeling framework presented here can be applied to various organisms ranging from viruses, bacteria, yeast and lower metazoans to more complex organisms such as mammalian cells. Ultimately, this signaling outcome modeling approach can be utilized to better understand the transition from physiological to pathological conditions such as inflammation, various cancers and autoimmune diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-138
Number of pages17
JournalIntegrative biology : quantitative biosciences from nano to macro
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 21 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


  • Cell decision making
  • decision theory
  • machine learning
  • noise
  • p53 system
  • signaling errors


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