Cyto-Sim: A formal language model and stochastic simulator of membrane-enclosed biochemical processes

Sean Sedwards, Tommaso Mazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivation: Compartments and membranes are the basis of cell topology and more than 30% of the human genome codes for membrane proteins. While it is possible to represent compartments and membrane proteins in a nominal way with many mathematical formalisms used in systems biology, few, if any, explicitly model the topology of the membranes themselves. Discrete stochastic simulation potentially offers the most accurate representation of cell dynamics. Since the details of every molecular interaction in a pathway are often not known, the relationship between chemical species in not necessarily best described at the lowest level, i.e. by mass action. Simulation is a form of computer-aided analysis, relying on human interpretation to derive meaning. To improve efficiency and gain meaning in an automatic way, it is necessary to have a formalism based on a model which has decidable properties. Results: We present Cyto-Sim, a stochastic simulator of membrane-enclosed hierarchies of biochemical processes, where the membranes comprise an inner, outer and integral layer. The underlying model is based on formal language theory and has been shown to have decidable properties (Cavaliere and Sedwards, 2006), allowing formal analysis in addition to simulation. The simulator provides variable levels of abstraction via arbitrary chemical kinetics which link to ordinary differential equations. In addition to its compact native syntax, Cyto-Sim currently supports models described as Petri nets, can import all versions of SBML and can export SBML and MATLAB® m-files.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2800-2802
Number of pages3
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications


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