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Phys Rev Lett. 2005 Apr 1;94(12):128701. Epub 2005 Apr 1.

Cell fates as high-dimensional attractor states of a complex gene regulatory network.

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Vascular Biology Program, Departments of Pathology & Surgery, Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
Harvard Med Sch, Boston, MA


Cells in multicellular organisms switch between distinct cell fates, such as proliferation or differentiation into specialized cell types. Genome-wide gene regulatory networks govern this behavior. Theoretical studies of complex networks suggest that they can exhibit ordered (stable) dynamics, raising the possibility that cell fates may represent high-dimensional attractor states. We used gene expression profiling to show that trajectories of neutrophil differentiation converge to a common state from different directions of a 2773-dimensional gene expression state space, providing the first experimental evidence for a high-dimensional stable attractor that represents a distinct cellular phenotype.

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