Motivation: We compare stochastic computational methods accounting for space and discrete nature of reactants in biochemical systems. Implementations based on Brownian dynamics (BD) and the reaction-diffusion master equation are applied to a simplified gene expression model and to a signal transduction pathway in Escherichia coli. Results: In the regime where the number of molecules is small and reactions are diffusion-limited predicted fluctuations in the product number vary between the methods, while the average is the same. Computational approaches at the level of the reaction-diffusion master equation compute the same fluctuations as the reference result obtained from the particle-based method if the size of the subvolumes is comparable to the diameter of reactants. Using numerical simulations of reversible binding of a pair of molecules we argue that the disagreement in predicted fluctuations is due to different modeling of inter-arrival times between reaction events. Simulations for a more complex biological study show that the different approaches lead to different results due to modeling issues. Finally, we present the physical assumptions behind the mesoscopic models for the reaction-diffusion systems.

Oxford U.P.
Mathematics and Computation for the System Biology of Cells
Multiscale Dynamics

Dobrzynski, M, Vidal Rodríguez, J, Kaandorp, J.A, & Blom, J.G. (2007). Computational methods for diffusion-influenced biochemical reactions. Bioinformatics, 23(15), 1969–1977.