Selection and Computational Potential of Gene Control Elements and Their Circuitry
Final technical rept. 1 Mar 1997-1 Mar 2001
MICHIGAN UNIV ANN ARBOR DEPT OF MICROBIOLOGY
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The physical basis for biological complexity is context-dependent expression of the organisms genome. The context is provided by the life cycle of the organism the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation interpret that context. We seek to develop a theoretical framework for quantitatively relating the integrated behavior of gene circuits to their underlying molecular determinants, and, by applying this theory to specific classes of gene circuits, we hope to discover the basic principles that govern their design by natural selection. To the best of our knowledge, there has been no concerted effort to understand the role of gene circuitry as a robust computational device. Under what conditions will gene control elements and their circuitry be maintained in the face of mutational entropy What is the computational potential of such robust circuits, and can one design selection strategies to direct their evolution These related questions represent the principal objectives of this work. We will first analyze known molecular modes of gene control and the spectrum of computations that they are capable of performing. Second, we will determine the selective pressures that in the presence of mutation lead to the emergence and maintenance of particular computational circuits involving these elements. Finally, we will use all this information in an attempt to design specific computational solutions through a process of directed evolution.
- Genetic Engineering and Molecular Biology