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A minimal mathematical model for the initial molecular interactions of death receptor signalling

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  • Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is the name giving member of a large cytokine family mirrored by a respective cell membrane receptor super family. TNF itself is a strong proinflammatory regulator of the innate immune system, but has been also recognized as a major factor in progression of autoimmune diseases. A subgroup of the TNF ligand family, including TNF, signals via so-called death receptors, capable to induce a major form of programmed cell death, called apoptosis. Typical for most members of the whole family, death ligands form homotrimeric proteins, capable to bind up to three of their respective receptor molecules. But also unligated receptors occur on the cell surface as homomultimers due to a homophilic interaction domain. Based on these two interaction motivs (ligand/receptor and receptor/receptor) formation of large ligand/receptor clusters can be postulated which have been also observed experimentally. We use here a mass action kinetics approach to establish an ordinary differential equations model describing the dynamics of primary ligand/receptor complex formation as a basis for further clustering on the cell membrane. Based on available experimental data we develop our model in a way that not only ligand/receptor, but also homophilic receptor interaction is encompassed. The model allows formation of two distict primary ligand/receptor complexes in a ligand concentration dependent manner. At extremely high ligand concentrations the system is dominated by ligated receptor homodimers.
    Mathematics Subject Classification: Primary: 92C37.

    Citation:

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