Systems biology of innate immunity
Systems biology is the comprehensive and quantitative analysis of the interactions between all of the components of biological systems over time. Systems biology involves an iterative cycle, in which emerging biological problems drive the development of new technologies and computational tools. These technologies and tools then open new frontiers that revolutionize biology. Innate immunity is well suited for systems analysis, because the relevant cells can be isolated in various functional states and their interactions can be reconstituted in a biologically meaningful manner. Application of the tools of systems biology to the innate immune system will enable comprehensive analysis of the complex interactions that maintain the difficult balance between host defense and inflammatory disease. In this review, we discuss innate immunity in the context of the systems biology concepts, emergence, robustness, and modularity, and we describe emerging technologies we are applying in our systems-level analyses. These technologies include genomics, proteomics, computational analysis, forward genetics screens, and analyses that link human genetic polymorphisms to disease resistance.