Discrete time piecewise affine models of genetic regulatory networks
We introduce simple models of genetic regulatory networks and we proceed to the mathematical analysis of their dynamics. The models are discrete time dynamical systems generated by piecewise affine contracting mappings whose variables represent gene expression levels. These models reduce to boolean networks in one limiting case of a parameter, and their asymptotic dynamics approaches that of a differential equation in another limiting case of this parameter. For intermediate values, the model present an original phenomenology which is argued to be due to delay effects. This phenomenology is not limited to piecewise affine model but extends to smooth nonlinear discrete time models of regulatory networks.
In a first step, our analysis concerns general properties of networks on arbitrary graphs (characterisation of the attractor, symbolic dynamics, Lyapunov stability, structural stability, symmetries, etc). In a second step, focus is made on simple circuits for which the attractor and its changes with parameters are described. In the negative circuit of 2 genes, a thorough study is presented which concern stable (quasi-)periodic oscillations governed by rotations on the unit circle – with a rotation number depending continuously and monotonically on threshold parameters. These regular oscillations exist in negative circuits with arbitrary number of genes where they are most likely to be observed in genetic systems with non-negligible delay effects.
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