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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Jan 13;101(2):580-5. Epub 2004 Jan 2.

Design of genetic networks with specified functions by evolution in silico.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Physique Statistique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique-Unité Mixte de Recherche 8550, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 24, Rue Lhomond, 75231 Paris, France.


Recent studies have provided insights into the modular structure of genetic regulatory networks and emphasized the interest of quantitative functional descriptions. Here, to provide a priori knowledge of the structure of functional modules, we describe an evolutionary procedure in silico that creates small gene networks performing basic tasks. We used it to create networks functioning as bistable switches or oscillators. The obtained circuits provide a variety of functional designs, demonstrate the crucial role of posttranscriptional interactions, and highlight design principles also found in known biological networks. The procedure should prove helpful as a way to understand and create small functional modules with diverse functions as well as to analyze large networks.

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