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Function does not follow form in gene regulatory circuits


Payne, Joshua L; Wagner, Andreas (2015). Function does not follow form in gene regulatory circuits. Scientific Reports, 5(13015):online.

Abstract

Gene regulatory circuits are to the cell what arithmetic logic units are to the chip: fundamental components of information processing that map an input onto an output. Gene regulatory circuits come in many different forms, distinct structural configurations that determine who regulates whom. Studies that have focused on the gene expression patterns (functions) of circuits with a given structure (form) have examined just a few structures or gene expression patterns. Here, we use a computational model to exhaustively characterize the gene expression patterns of nearly 17 million three-gene circuits in order to systematically explore the relationship between circuit form and function. Three main conclusions emerge. First, function does not follow form. A circuit of any one structure can have between twelve and nearly thirty thousand distinct gene expression patterns. Second, and conversely, form does not follow function. Most gene expression patterns can be realized by more than one circuit structure. And third, multifunctionality severely constrains circuit form. The number of circuit structures able to drive multiple gene expression patterns decreases rapidly with the number of these patterns. These results indicate that it is generally not possible to infer circuit function from circuit form, or vice versa.

Abstract

Gene regulatory circuits are to the cell what arithmetic logic units are to the chip: fundamental components of information processing that map an input onto an output. Gene regulatory circuits come in many different forms, distinct structural configurations that determine who regulates whom. Studies that have focused on the gene expression patterns (functions) of circuits with a given structure (form) have examined just a few structures or gene expression patterns. Here, we use a computational model to exhaustively characterize the gene expression patterns of nearly 17 million three-gene circuits in order to systematically explore the relationship between circuit form and function. Three main conclusions emerge. First, function does not follow form. A circuit of any one structure can have between twelve and nearly thirty thousand distinct gene expression patterns. Second, and conversely, form does not follow function. Most gene expression patterns can be realized by more than one circuit structure. And third, multifunctionality severely constrains circuit form. The number of circuit structures able to drive multiple gene expression patterns decreases rapidly with the number of these patterns. These results indicate that it is generally not possible to infer circuit function from circuit form, or vice versa.

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3 citations in Web of Science®
2 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:15 August 2015
Deposited On:11 Feb 2016 12:46
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 20:01
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2045-2322
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/srep13015
PubMed ID:26290154

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Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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