Robustness and fragility in the high osmolarity glycerol (HOG) pathway in S. cerevisiae
Conference poster, 2009
Cellular signalling networks integrate environmental stimuli with information on cellular status. These networks must be robust against stochastic fluctuations in external stimuli as well as in the amounts of signalling components. Here , we challenge the yeast HOG signal transduction pathway with systematic perturbations in components’ expression levels implemented by a “genetic tug-of-war” methodology under various external conditions in search of nodes of fragilities. We observe a substantially higher frequency of fragile nodes in this signal transduction pathway than has been observed for other cellular processes. These fragilities disperse without any clear pattern over biochemical functions or location in pathway topology, with the most sensitive nodes being the proteins PBS2 and SSK1. They are also largely independent of pathway activation by external stimuli. However, the strongest toxicities are caused by pathway hyperactivation. We studied the influence of seven regulatory motifs around these HOG pathway components in silico through ODE models. Based on the SLN1 and the MAPK modules of a mathematical model of osmoregulation in budding yeast by Klipp et al.  we included new motifs and fitted the affected parameters to time courses of dually phosphorylated Hog1p generated by the original model under stress and stress-free conditions. The regulations taken into account by our analysis include Pbs2p scaffolding, Ssk1p and Pbs2p autoactivation, and the formation of a stable dimer between Ssk2p and Ssk1p. A subsequent sensitivity analysis identified Pbs2's role as a scaffold protein and Ssk1p-Ssk2p dimerization as the important contributors to the observed robustness pattern in silico. Thus, in vivo robustness data can be used to discriminate and improve mathematical models.