A differentiable Gillespie algorithm for simulating chemical kinetics, parameter estimation, and designing synthetic biological circuits

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A differentiable Gillespie algorithm for simulating chemical kinetics, parameter estimation, and designing synthetic biological circuits

Authors

Rijal, K.; Mehta, P.

Abstract

The Gillespie algorithm is commonly used to simulate and analyze complex chemical reaction networks. Here, we leverage recent breakthroughs in deep learning to develop a fully differentiable variant of the Gillespie algorithm. The differentiable Gillespie algorithm (DGA) approximates discontinuous operations in the exact Gillespie algorithm using smooth functions, allowing for the calculation of gradients using backpropagation. The DGA can be used to quickly and accurately learn kinetic parameters using gradient descent and design biochemical networks with desired properties. As an illustration, we apply the DGA to study stochastic models of gene promoters. We show that the DGA can be used to: (i) successfully learn kinetic parameters from experimental measurements of mRNA expression levels from two distinct E. coli promoters and (ii) design nonequilibrium promoter architectures with desired input-output relationships. These examples illustrate the utility of the DGA for analyzing stochastic chemical kinetics, including a wide variety of problems of interest to synthetic and systems biology.

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