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Brief Bioinform. 2018 Sep 18. doi: 10.1093/bib/bby088. [Epub ahead of print]

Control principles for complex biological networks.

Li M1, Gao H1, Wang J1, Wu FX1,2,3.

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School of Information Science and Engineering, Central South University, Changsha, Hunan, China.
Division of Biomedical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.


Networks have been widely used to model the structure of various biological systems. Currently, a series of approaches have been developed to construct reliable biological networks. However, the ultimate understanding of a biological system is to steer its states to the desired ones by imposing signals. The control process is dominated by the intrinsic structure and the dynamic propagation. To understand the underlying mechanisms behind the life process, the control theory can be applied to biological networks with specific target requirements. In this article, we first introduce the structural controllability of complex networks and discuss its advantages and disadvantages. Then, we review the effective control to meet the specific requirements for complex biological networks. Moreover, we summarize the existing methods for finding the unique minimum set of driver nodes via the optimal control for complex networks. Finally, we discuss the relationships between biological networks and structural controllability, effective control and optimal control. Moreover, potential applications of general control principles are pointed out.


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