Coarse-graining stochastic biochemical networks: quasi-stationary approximation and fast simulations using a stochastic path integral technique

Research paper by N. A. Sinitsyn, Nicolas Hengartner, Ilya Nemenman

Indexed on: 28 Aug '08Published on: 28 Aug '08Published in: Quantitative Biology - Molecular Networks


We propose a universal approach for analysis and fast simulations of stiff stochastic biochemical kinetics networks, which rests on elimination of fast chemical species without a loss of information about mesoscopic, non-Poissonian fluctuations of the slow ones. Our approach, which is similar to the Born-Oppenheimer approximation in quantum mechanics, follows from the stochastic path integral representation of the full counting statistics of reaction events (also known as the cumulant generating function). In applications with a small number of chemical reactions, this approach produces analytical expressions for moments of chemical fluxes between slow variables. This allows for a low-dimensional, interpretable representation of the biochemical system, that can be used for coarse-grained numerical simulation schemes with a small computational complexity and yet high accuracy. As an example, we consider a chain of biochemical reactions, derive its coarse-grained description, and show that the Gillespie simulations of the original stiff system, the coarse-grained simulations, and the full analytical treatment are in an agreement, but the coarse-grained simulations are three orders of magnitude faster than the Gillespie analogue.