DIMACS/BIOMAPS Seminar Series on Quantitative Biology and Epidemiology.

Title: Topology and robustness of the segment polarity gene network

Speaker: Reka Albert, Penn State University

Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2003, 1:00 pm

Location: Hill Center, Room 260, Rutgers University, Busch Campus, Piscataway, NJ


Biological systems form complex networks of interaction on several scales, ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level. On the subcellular scale, interaction between genes and gene products (mRNAs, proteins) forms the basis of essential processes like signal transduction, cell metabolism or embryonic development. I will give a brief description of the main frameworks and methods used in modeling gene regulatory networks, then focus on a recent model of the segment polarity genes of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.

The basis of this model is the known interactions between the products of the segment polarity genes, and the network topology these interactions form. The interactions between mRNAs and proteins are described as Boolean functions. This model reproduces successfully both wild type and mutant gene expression patterns, suggesting that the kinetic details of the interactions are not essential as long as the network of interactions is unperturbed. The model predicts the gene patterns for cases that were not yet studied experimentally, and implies a remarkable robustness towards changes in internal parameters, initial conditions and even some mutations.

Seminar sponsored by DIMACS/BIOMAPS Seminar Series on Quantitative Biology and Epidemiology.