Simulating the evolution of genetic networks

Troy Ruths, Rice University

Photo of Troy Ruths

A major component of the machinery that determines a cell's behavior is a genetic network. Such a network consists of a graph in which nodes correspond to genes (or gene products), and edges correspond to "regulate" relationships; that is, an edge from node a to node b denotes that "gene a regulates gene b". The nodes and edges of this network are encoded in the genome, which resides in the cell's nucleus. Advances in biotechnologies are enabling researchers to collect large amounts of data on these networks from different types of cells, as well as from different organisms. One powerful technique used to analyze these data and elucidate information about their formation and functioning is comparative analysis. This type of analysis amounts to analyzing and understanding the evolution of a set of genetic networks. In this work, we model the mechanisms that govern the evolution of these networks with a high-performance tool for simulating the evolution of networks in a "population setting". Such a simulator allows us to investigate important questions about the emergence of network properties.

Abstract Author(s): Troy Ruths and Luay Nakhleh