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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2011 Aug;106(2):443-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2011.01.002. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

A comparison of two cell regulatory models entailing high dimensional attractors representing phenotype.

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Department of Environmental Science, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio Campus, 70211 Kuopio, Finland.


Two models for mammalian cell regulation that invoke the concept of cellular phenotype represented by high dimensional dynamic attractor states are compared. In one model the attractors are derived from an experimentally determined genetic regulatory network (GRN) for the cell type. As the state space architecture within which the attractors are embedded is determined by the binding sites on proteins and the recognition sites on DNA the attractors can be described as "hard-wired" in the genome through the genomic DNA sequence. In the second model attractors arising from the interactions between active gene products (mainly proteins) and independent of the genomic sequence, are descended from a pre-cellular state from which life originated. As this model is based on the cell as an open system the attractor acts as the interface between the cell and its environment. Environmental sources of stress can serve to trigger attractor and therefore phenotypic, transitions without entailing genotypic sequence changes. It is asserted that the evidence from cell and molecular biological research and logic, favours the second model. If correct there are important implications for understanding how environmental factors impact on evolution and may be implicated in hereditary and somatic disease.

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