J. Biomedical Science and Engineering, 2010, 3, 470-475
doi: 10.4236/jbise.2010.35065 Published Online May 2010 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/jbise/
Published Online May 2010 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/jbise
A digital cmos sequential circuit model for bio-cellular adaptive
immune response pathway using phagolysosomic digestion: a
digital phagocytosis engine
Sayed Mohammad Rezaul Hasan
Center for Research in Analog and VLSI Microsystem Design, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, Massey University,
Albany, New Zealand.
Email: hasanmic@massey.ac.nz
Received 26 February 2010; revised 11 March 2010; accepted 16 March 2010.
Living systems have to constantly counter micro-or-
ganisms which seek parasitic existence by extracting
nutrition (amino acids) from the host. Phagocytosis is
the ingestion of micro-creatures by certain cells of
living systems for counter nutrition (breakdown of
the micro-creature into basic components) as part of
cellular adaptive immune response. These particular
cells are called phagocytes, all of which are different
types of white blood cells or their derivatives. Phago-
cytes are activated by certain components of the mi-
cro-creatures which act as an antigen, generating an-
tibody secretion by the phagocyte. This paper devel-
ops a digital CMOS circuit model of phagocytosis:
the immune response biochemical pathway of a pha-
gocyte. A micro-sequenced model has been developed
where the different stages in phagocytosis are mod-
eled as different states clocked by circadian time in-
tervals. The model converts the bio-chemical immune
system digestive pathway into a cascade of CMOS
multi-step logical transformations from micro-crea-
ture ingestion to the secretion of indigestible residuals.
This modeling technique leads to the understanding
of cellular immune deficiency diseases of living sys-
tems in the form of logical (electrical) faults in a cir-
Keywords: Systems Biology; CMOS Circuit;
Phagocytosis; Silicon Mimetic
Looking at bio-chemical pathways of biological systems
from a micro-electronic circuit diagram perspective is an
interesting analytical paradigm in developing the con-
vergence of biosciences, biotechnology and electrical
engineering. In an effort towards understanding the bio-
chemical functions of living systems at molecular inter-
action level researchers working in the developing field
of systems biology [1,2] have endeavored to provide
models that integrate the molecular interactions between
proteins [3], enzymes [4,5], DNA [6], RNA [4], ions etc.
within individual bio-cells of different kinds and their
Immune response is one of the most fundamental bio-
chemical activity of living systems. Micro-creatures
constantly harboring towards living systems for parasitic
existence are subjected to counter nutrition mechanisms
of certain type of immune system cells, e.g., white blood
cells or their derivatives usually known as phagocytes.
This process of immune response is know as phagocyto-
sis. It is a cascade of molecular interactions within the
phagocyte which result in the breakdown of the mi-
cro-creature into its basic components, parts of which
are recycled (digested) for nutrition and the rest elimi-
nated from the system as residual waste. Circuit theo-
retic techniques of modeling this biochemical immune
system pathway within a phagocyte compared to other
mathematical modeling techniques [7,8] is the central
theme of this paper. In recently published papers [9-11]
this author described how the states of DNA protein in-
teractions within the bio-cellular operations can be mod-
eled using integrated circuits (silicon mimetic model
[12,13]). In addition, models for mitochondrial respira-
tion related electron transfer pathway [14], and cell sig-
naling pathway using G-Protein and Phosphorylation
cascade [15] has been reported by this author. These
models based on integrated circuits are amenable to the
large variety of mature simulation tools [16] available in
the Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Computer aided
design (CAD) arena. This type of modeling thus en-
hances the knowledge required for the realization of the
“dream” of designed biochemical pathways and gene
circuits [12] with revolutionary outcomes for gene and
cell therapy (“nano-med icine”). In this work a digital
CMOS [17] micro-sequenced model for phagocytosis
has been developed where the sequence of biochemical
processing stages are clocked by circadian time (hours)
S. M. Rezaul Hasan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 470-475 471
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
[7] intervals.
Infection of living systems by micro-creatures results in
various types of white blood cells becoming phagocytes
and moving into infected tissue. These phagocytes en-
large and develop into a macrophage engulfing and de-
vouring micro-creatures in a counter nutrition effort.
Figure 1(a) shows the microphotograph of such a ma-
crophage digesting micro-creatures (red bacterium).
Figure 1(b) shows the mechanism of phagocytosis in
terms of the bio-chemical pathway in a phagocyte. The
bio-chemical pathway of Phagocytosis [4,5] can be di-
Figure 1. (a) Photomicrograph [5] of phagocytic digestion
(microphage) of red micro-creatures (bacterium); (b) a sche-
matic illustration of the mechanism of phagocytosis (bio-
chemical pathway) in a phagocyte.
vided into several states such as chemotaxis (or photo-
taxis), adherence, opsonization, ingestion, digestion and
residue ejection. Chemotaxis (or, phototaxis) by chemi-
cal (or optical) stimuli is the mechanism of approach
through “run” and “tumble” of micro-creatures towards
favorable host living systems. Phagocytes are attracted
by the micro-creatures through their antigenic compo-
nents, resulting in the release of antibody serum proteins
that opsonize the microcreatures. Opsonized microcrea-
tures then easily adhere to the plasma membrane of the
phagocyte which is referred to as a state of adherence.
After adherence, there is ingestion, whereby, the phago-
cyte extend its flagella type “arms” called pseudopods
which surround and then engulf the microcreature. Once
ingested, the surrounding pseudopods fuse and enclose
the micro-creature in a fluid sack called “phagosome” or
phagocytic vesicle. The membrane of this vesicle has
enzymes which pump hydrogen ions (H+) into the vesi-
cle, thereby reducing the pH to around 4, so that hydro-
lytic enzymes can be activated for the breakdown of the
micro-creature. The next stage of phagocytosis is the
digestive pathway which begins with the phagosome
“pinching off” from the plasma membrane and entering
the cytoplasm. Inside the cytoplasm the phagosomes
attach with lysosome sacks containing digestive en-
zymes and microbcidal substances. On attachment, the
membranes of lysosome and phagosme merge forming a
larger composite sack called phagolysosome. The de-
generative components inside the phagolysosome take
only sub-circadian time interval (less than an hour) to
completely breakdown (“kill”) micro-creatures inside it.
This digestive pathway contains several main and sub-
processes. Lysosomic enzyme lysozyme directly attacks
the cell-wall of the micro-creature and initiates the hy-
drolysis of the cell-wall. A host of other lysosomic en-
zymes are also active at the same time, so that the micro-
creatures macro-components are disintegrated, such as
its lipids by the enzyme lipase, its proteins by protease,
its ribonucleic acids by ribonuclease, and, its deoxyri-
bonucleic acids by deoxyribonuclease. Lysosomes also
contain certain enzymes which can initiate a process
known as oxidative burst which result in toxic oxygen
products such as super oxide radical (), hydrogen per
oxide (), hydroxyl radical () and singlet
oxygen (). Other lysosomic enzymes combine with
these toxic oxygen products to produce secondary mi-
crobcides which hydrolyze and breakdown the micro-
creatures. For instance, the enzyme myeloperoxidase
(MY) converts chlorine ions () and hydrogen per
oxide (22 ) into highly toxic hypochlorous acid
(HOCl ) which contain the well-known anti-microbial
472 S. M. Rezaul Hasan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 470-475
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
agent hypochlorous ions.
A silicon mimetic [11] model of the bio-chemical path-
way of phagocytosis has been developed and is shown in
Figure 2. The discussion in the previous section indi-
cates the existence of many intermediate steps in the bio-
chemical digestive pathway of phagocytosis whose
proper co-ordination is an important factor in the func-
tional phagocyte of living systems. Similar to the con-
cept introduced in [15], the intermediate steps in the
bio-chemical path of phagocytic digestion of micro-
creatures can be modeled as states in Delay flip-flops
(Registers) which indicate the states of molecular inter-
actions (binding, hydrolysis and breakdown) that consti-
tute the behavior of the phagocyte. Using this modeling
technique malfunction in the immune system (immune
deficiency syndrome: cause of numerous diseases) can
be conveniently modeled as circuit faults, such as, out-
puts of logic gates or flip-flops (registers) are stuck at
logic “0” or at logic “1”, thus unifying the approach to
solving faults in electronic or biological circuits (in this
case the biological circuit of the immune response sys
tem). At any time-instant n, presence of Gram positive
(GP) or Gram negative (GN) micro-creatures in close
proximity to the phagocyte is stored as u1(n) in the
D-FF_1. The presence of chemo-tectile micro-creatures
due to the presence of chemical signals is stored as u2(n)
in the D-FF_2. On the other hand, the presence of photo-
tectile micro-creature due to the presence of optical sig-
nals is stored as u3(n) in the D-FF_3. The presence of
chemo-tectile or phototectile micro-creature opsonized
by anti-body serum protein (SP) is stored as u4(n) in the
D-FF_4. The presence of ingested micro-creatures en-
gulfed by pseudopods (PP) is stored as u5(n) in the
D-FF_5. The state of the ingested micro-creatures within
phagosomes with H+ ions pumped inside the phagocytic
vesicle is indicated by u6(n) in the D-FF_6. The “pinch-
ing off” of phagosome from the plasma membrane and
entering the cytoplasm is registered as u7(n) in D-FF_7.
The attachment and merger of lysosome with the pha-
gosome in the phagolysosome, and the resulting state of
the digestive degradation of the microcreatures is repre-
sented by,
)1n(um)n(14u (1)
The hydrolysis of micro-creature inside the phagoly-
sosome due to hypochloric acid (a byproduct of the oxi-
dative burst) is indicated by the state u8(n) stored in the
D-FF_8. The breakdown of the micro-creature’s cell-
wall by the enzyme lysozyme (LYE) is indicated by the
state u9(n) in the D-FF_9. The breakdown of lipids in-
side the degenerated micro-creatures by the lysosomic
enzyme lipase is indicated by the state u10(n) stored in
D-FF_10. Next, the breakdown of the bacterial proteins
inside the degenerated microbe by the lysosomic enzyme
protease is indicated by the state u11(n) stored in
D-FF_11. The breakdown of the bacterial ribonucleic
acids inside the degenerated microbe by the lysosomic
enzyme ribonuclease (RNE) is indicated by the state
u12(n) stored in D-FF_12. And, finally the breakdown of
the bacterial DNA by the lysosomic enzyme deoxyribo-
nuclease (DNE) is indicated by the state u13(n) stored in
D-FF_13. Based on the micro-step sequenced model of
Figure 2, the following discrete-time state equations can
be written for the phagocytic digestive pathway:
 H)1n(5u)n(6u (7)
O)}]H1(LECl{MY1)7(n[u8(n)u 2
 (9)
LPE1)]9(nu1)8(n[u10(n)u 
PTE1)]9(nu1)8(n[u11(n)u 
RNE1)]9(nu1)8(n[u12(n)u 
Modeling immune response deficiency as electrical
faults: Using these circuit model immune deficiency
diseases can be modeled as electrical faults. For example,
if the serum protein (anti-body) is not produced, the in-
vading micro-creatures cannot be engulfed, and, the state
at u(4) will be stuck at “0”, resulting in all the down-stream
digestive degradation pathway states being stuck at “0”,
i.e., becomes non-functional. The solutions can then be
designed in terms of CMOS circuit functionality and
converted into the equivalent biochemical solution (“na-
Figure 3 displays how the immune system response
S. M. Rezaul Hasan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 470-475 473
Copyright © 2010 SciRes.
Figure 2. A micro-sequenced digital CMOS model of the bio-chemical pathway of phagocytosis using logic gates and D-flip-flops.
474 S. M. Rezaul Hasan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 470-475
Copyright © 2010 SciRes.
bio-chemical events form a pipeline through the silicon
mimetic model of phagocytosis in a digital CMOS mi-
cro-sequenced logic simulation process. It also shows the
sequence of intermediate states (D flip-flop states) cor-
responding to whether a certain bio-chemical state is
activated. The sequence of molecular interactions is con-
sidered to be taking place in the circadian time-scale
(hours or few minutes). The D flip-flops are thus driven
by a clock with circadian time period. Figure 3 shows
molecular events occurring over 24 circadian time peri ods
during which micro-creatures (bacteria or microbes) ar-
rive towards phagocytes until the period n = 8. This
Figure 3. Sequence of intermediate steps (D flip-flop states) in the phagocytic bio-chemical pathway, (a) for circadian time-instants n
= 0 to n = 11; and (b) for circadian time-instants n = 12 to n = 23.
S. M. Rezaul Hasan / J. Biomedical Science and Engineering 3 (2010) 470-475 475
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. JBiSE
causes the immune response pathway to activate. This
results in the presence of either chemo-tectile (D-FF_2)
or photo-tectile (D-FF_3) micro-creatures during the
circadian interval <2,9>. Also, opsonized microcreatures
are present during the interval <3,10>, microcreatures
are ingested during the interval <4,11>, digestive vesi-
cles are formed near the phagocyte membrane during the
interval <5,12>, vesicles are detached and moves into
the cytoplasm during the interval <6,13>, phagolyso-
some is formed and the microcreature is hydrolyzed
(state in D-FF_8) and microcreature cell-wall is hydro-
lyzed (state in D-FF_9) during the interval <7,14>. The
breakdown of lipids (state in D-FF_10), proteins (state in
D-FF_11), ribonucleic acid (state in D-FF-12) and de-
oxyribonucleic acid (state in D-FF_13) take place simul-
taneously in the interval <8,15>. The undigested mi-
cro-creature artifacts (state in D-FF_14) are removed
during the interval <9,16>. As the micro-creatures are is
not present during the interval <9,12>, there is a short
pause in the digestive bio-chemical process which is
evident from the diagonal zero states in Figure 3(b).
Also, beginning the interval <13,16> the presence of a
short burst of microcreatures results in a short pipeline
of digestive pathway activities (reactions and interac-
tions) that is evident through the diagonal array of “1” as
shown in Figure 3(b).
A digital circuit based model for the phagocytic bio-
chemical digestive pathway in living systems has been
developed and discussed in detail. The model corre-
sponds quite well with the immune response phenome-
non depicting striking resemblance of CMOS logic cir-
cuit (with states in D flip-flops) to states in bio-cellular
phenomenon. Compared to mathematical modeling,
model derived from analogies with integrated circuit
allows VLSI CAD circuit and logic simulators to be con-
veniently used as a biological simulation program.
Hence this work provides an alternative route for further
systems biological investigation into more comprehen-
sive integrated circuit models for more extensive bio-
chemical pathways in living systems. This investigation
will thus contribute to the desired manipulation of bio-
logical processes at the cellular level leading to electrical
circuit modeling of diseases and “nano-medicine”.
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