End-to-end molecular communication channels in cell metabolism: An information theoretic study

Zahmeeth Sakkaf, Jennie L. Catlett, Mikaela Cashman, Massimiliano Pierobon, Nicole R. Buan, Myra B. Cohen, Christine A. Kelley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

The opportunity to control and fine-tune the behavior of biological cells is a fascinating possibility for many diverse disciplines, ranging from medicine and ecology, to chemical industry and space exploration. While synthetic biology is providing novel tools to reprogram cell behavior from their genetic code, many challenges need to be solved before it can become a true engineering discipline, such as reliability, safety assurance, reproducibility and stability. This paper aims to understand the limits in the controllability of the behavior of a natural (non-engineered) biological cell. In particular, the focus is on cell metabolism, and its natural regulation mechanisms, and their ability to react and change according to the chemical characteristics of the external environment. To understand the aforementioned limits of this ability, molecular communication is used to abstract biological cells into a series of channels that propagate information on the chemical composition of the extracellular environment to the cell's behavior in terms of uptake and consumption of chemical compounds, and growth rate. This provides an information-theoretic framework to analyze the upper bound limit to the capacity of these channels to propagate information, which is based on a well-known and computationally efficient metabolic simulation technique. A numerical study is performed on two human gut microbes, where the upper bound is estimated for different environmental compounds, showing there is a potential for future practical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 4th ACM International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication, NanoCom 2017
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery, Inc
ISBN (Electronic)9781450349314
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 27 2017
Event4th ACM International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication, NanoCom 2017 - Washington, United States
Duration: Sep 27 2017Sep 29 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 4th ACM International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication, NanoCom 2017

Other

Other4th ACM International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication, NanoCom 2017
CountryUnited States
CityWashington
Period9/27/179/29/17

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Keywords

  • Cell metabolism
  • Information theory
  • Molecular communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Communication
  • Computer Networks and Communications

Cite this

Sakkaf, Z., Catlett, J. L., Cashman, M., Pierobon, M., Buan, N. R., Cohen, M. B., & Kelley, C. A. (2017). End-to-end molecular communication channels in cell metabolism: An information theoretic study. In Proceedings of the 4th ACM International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication, NanoCom 2017 [21] (Proceedings of the 4th ACM International Conference on Nanoscale Computing and Communication, NanoCom 2017). Association for Computing Machinery, Inc. https://doi.org/10.1145/3109453.3109474