Motivation: Dynamic simulation of genome-scale molecular interaction networks will enable the mechanistic prediction of genotype–phenotype relationships. Despite advances in quantitative biology, full parameterization of whole-cell models is not yet possible. Simulation methods capable of using available qualitative data are required to develop dynamic whole-cell models through an iterative process of modelling and experimental validation.

Results: We formulate quasi-steady state Petri nets (QSSPN), a novel method integrating Petri nets and constraint-based analysis to predict the feasibility of qualitative dynamic behaviours in qualitative models of gene regulation, signalling and whole-cell metabolism. We present the first dynamic simulations including regulatory mechanisms and a genome-scale metabolic network in human cell, using bile acid homeostasis in human hepatocytes as a case study. QSSPN simulations reproduce experimentally determined qualitative dynamic behaviours and permit mechanistic analysis of genotype–phenotype relationships.

Availability and implementation: The model and simulation software implemented in C++ are available in supplementary material and at

Contact:  [email protected]

Supplementary information:  Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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