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      Structure and function of the feed-forward loop network motif

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      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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          Abstract

          Engineered systems are often built of recurring circuit modules that carry out key functions. Transcription networks that regulate the responses of living cells were recently found to obey similar principles: they contain several biochemical wiring patterns, termed network motifs, which recur throughout the network. One of these motifs is the feed-forward loop (FFL). The FFL, a three-gene pattern, is composed of two input transcription factors, one of which regulates the other, both jointly regulating a target gene. The FFL has eight possible structural types, because each of the three interactions in the FFL can be activating or repressing. Here, we theoretically analyze the functions of these eight structural types. We find that four of the FFL types, termed incoherent FFLs, act as sign-sensitive accelerators: they speed up the response time of the target gene expression following stimulus steps in one direction (e.g., off to on) but not in the other direction (on to off). The other four types, coherent FFLs, act as sign-sensitive delays. We find that some FFL types appear in transcription network databases much more frequently than others. In some cases, the rare FFL types have reduced functionality (responding to only one of their two input stimuli), which may partially explain why they are selected against. Additional features, such as pulse generation and cooperativity, are discussed. This study defines the function of one of the most significant recurring circuit elements in transcription networks.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Transcriptional regulatory networks in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

           T Lee,  Ziv Bar-Joseph (2002)
          We have determined how most of the transcriptional regulators encoded in the eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae associate with genes across the genome in living cells. Just as maps of metabolic networks describe the potential pathways that may be used by a cell to accomplish metabolic processes, this network of regulator-gene interactions describes potential pathways yeast cells can use to regulate global gene expression programs. We use this information to identify network motifs, the simplest units of network architecture, and demonstrate that an automated process can use motifs to assemble a transcriptional regulatory network structure. Our results reveal that eukaryotic cellular functions are highly connected through networks of transcriptional regulators that regulate other transcriptional regulators.
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            Network motifs in the transcriptional regulation network of Escherichia coli.

            Little is known about the design principles of transcriptional regulation networks that control gene expression in cells. Recent advances in data collection and analysis, however, are generating unprecedented amounts of information about gene regulation networks. To understand these complex wiring diagrams, we sought to break down such networks into basic building blocks. We generalize the notion of motifs, widely used for sequence analysis, to the level of networks. We define 'network motifs' as patterns of interconnections that recur in many different parts of a network at frequencies much higher than those found in randomized networks. We applied new algorithms for systematically detecting network motifs to one of the best-characterized regulation networks, that of direct transcriptional interactions in Escherichia coli. We find that much of the network is composed of repeated appearances of three highly significant motifs. Each network motif has a specific function in determining gene expression, such as generating temporal expression programs and governing the responses to fluctuating external signals. The motif structure also allows an easily interpretable view of the entire known transcriptional network of the organism. This approach may help define the basic computational elements of other biological networks.
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              Is Open Access

              Specificity and stability in topology of protein networks

              Molecular networks guide the biochemistry of a living cell on multiple levels: its metabolic and signalling pathways are shaped by the network of interacting proteins, whose production, in turn, is controlled by the genetic regulatory network. To address topological properties of these two networks we quantify correlations between connectivities of interacting nodes and compare them to a null model of a network, in which al links were randomly rewired. We find that for both interaction and regulatory networks, links between highly connected proteins are systematically suppressed, while those between a highly-connected and low-connected pairs of proteins are favored. This effect decreases the likelihood of cross talk between different functional modules of the cell, and increases the overall robustness of a network by localizing effects of deleterious perturbations.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                May 01 2011
                October 14 2003
                October 06 2003
                October 14 2003
                : 100
                : 21
                : 11980-11985
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.2133841100
                218699
                14530388
                © 2003
                Product

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