Relating simulation studies by provenance—Developing a family of Wnt signaling models

Budde, Kai and Smith, Jacob and Wilsdorf, Pia and Haack, Fiete and Uhrmacher, Adelinde M. (2021) Relating simulation studies by provenance—Developing a family of Wnt signaling models. PLoS Computational Biology, 17 (8), pp. 1-21. ISSN 1553-7358 (print) 1553-734X (online).

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For many biological systems, a variety of simulation models exist. A new simulation model is rarely developed from scratch, but rather revises and extends an existing one. A key challenge, however, is to decide which model might be an appropriate starting point for a particular problem and why. To answer this question, we need to identify entities and activities that contributed to the development of a simulation model. Therefore, we exploit the provenance data model, PROV-DM, of the World Wide Web Consortium and, building on previous work, continue developing a PROV ontology for simulation studies. Based on a case study of 19 Wnt/β-catenin signaling models, we identify crucial entities and activities as well as useful metadata to both capture the provenance information from individual simulation studies and relate these forming a family of models. The approach is implemented in WebProv, a web application for inserting and querying provenance information. Our specialization of PROV-DM contains the entities Research Question, Assumption, Requirement, Qualitative Model, Simulation Model, Simulation Experiment, Simulation Data, and Wet-lab Data as well as activities referring to building, calibrating, validating, and analyzing a simulation model. We show that most Wnt simulation models are connected to other Wnt models by using (parts of) these models. However, the overlap, especially regarding the Wet-lab Data used for calibration or validation of the models is small. Making these aspects of developing a model explicit and queryable is an important step for assessing and reusing simulation models more effectively. Exposing this information helps to integrate a new simulation model within a family of existing ones and may lead to the development of more robust and valid simulation models. We hope that our approach becomes part of a standardization effort and that modelers adopt the benefits of provenance when considering or creating simulation models.

Item Type: Article
Projects: LaCE, MaCE, GrEASE