Inter-species prediction of protein phosphorylation in the sbv IMPROVER species translation challenge

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Motivation: Animal models are widely used in biomedical research for reasons ranging from practical to ethical. An important issue is whether rodent models are predictive of human biology. This has been addressed recently in the framework of a series of challenges designed by the systems biology verification for Industrial Methodology for Process Verification in Research (sbv IMPROVER) initiative. In particular, one of the sub-challenges was devoted to the prediction of protein phosphorylation responses in human bronchial epithelial cells, exposed to a number of different chemical stimuli, given the responses in rat bronchial epithelial cells. Participating teams were asked to make inter-species predictions on the basis of available training examples, comprising transcriptomics and phosphoproteomics data. Results: Here, the two best performing teams present their datadriven approaches and computational methods. In addition, post hoc analyses of the datasets and challenge results were performed by the participants and challenge organizers. The challenge outcome indicates that successful prediction of protein phosphorylation status in human based on rat phosphorylation levels is feasible. However, within the limitations of the computational tools used, the inclusion of gene expression data does not improve the prediction quality. The post hoc analysis of time-specific measurements sheds light on the signaling pathways in both species.