BACKGROUND: Cellular behaviors are governed by interaction networks among biomolecules, for example gene regulatory and signal transduction networks. An often used dynamic modeling framework for these networks, Boolean modeling, can obtain their attractors (which correspond to cell types and behaviors) and their trajectories from an initial state (e.g. a resting state) to the attractors, for example in response to an external signal. The existing methods however do not elucidate the causal relationships between distant nodes in the network.
RESULTS: In this work, we propose a simple logic framework, based on categorizing causal relationships as sufficient or necessary, as a complement to Boolean networks. We identify and explore the properties of complex subnetworks that are distillable into a single logic relationship. We also identify cyclic subnetworks that ensure the stabilization of the state of participating nodes regardless of the rest of the network. We identify the logic backbone of biomolecular networks, consisting of external signals, self-sustaining cyclic subnetworks (stable motifs), and output nodes. Furthermore, we use the logic framework to identify crucial nodes whose override can drive the system from one steady state to another. We apply these techniques to two biological networks: the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition network corresponding to a developmental process exploited in tumor invasion, and the network of abscisic acid induced stomatal closure in plants. We find interesting subnetworks with logical implications in these networks. Using these subgraphs and motifs, we efficiently reduce both networks to succinct backbone structures.
CONCLUSIONS: The logic representation identifies the causal relationships between distant nodes and subnetworks. This knowledge can form the basis of network control or used in the reverse engineering of networks.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Structural Biology
- Modeling and Simulation
- Molecular Biology
- Computer Science Applications
- Applied Mathematics