Control of Regulatory Networks with focus on non-coding RNA. Subproject: Analysis of Gene Regulatory Networks from a Control Engineering Perspective

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Joint Initiative for Innovation and Research. The Helmholtz Alliance on Systems Biology.
Funding Period:

2007 – 2011

Project description:

Regulatory networks are essential modules to the understanding of central biological processes such as neuronal and stem cell differentiation or pattern formation. Recently a novel and basic mechanism has been discovered introducing non-coding RNAs as a yet poorly understood element in regulatory networks. The challenge to be addressed in this project is the search for principles underlying gene regulation with a focus on the action of non-coding RNAs. Hereby, experimental and theoretical groups from various fields are closely interconnected in order to generate data and build mathematical models for the selected genetic regulatory networks. Also new analysis tools shall be developed which can help to further understand the underlaying principles of these systems.

The CSB is involved in this alliance via the CoReNe-subproject of Prof. Allgöwer: Analysis of Gene Regulatory Networks from a Control Engineering Perspective

In this subproject, the role of feedback and other regulatory mechanisms in genetic networks is analyzed. Therefore, techniques from the broad area of control theory which are relevant for gene regulation networks are applied to the biological example systems and further developed with a focus on the mechanisms of interaction and regulatory control by non-coding RNA.

These techniques comprise methods for the analysis of negative feedback loops which are based on a system description with ordinary differential equations. But also hybrid models are promising in this context as they provide a link between the discrete models which can be derived from highthroughput measurement data, and a description using differential equations, which is typically used for control theoretic analysis. Important questions are the existence and stability of steady states and finding control mechanisms carried out by a general element such as non-coding RNA. So far, we have focused on the example systems “embryonal and adult dopaminergic system in mice” and “the notch gene regulatory network”


Frank Allgöwer

Institute for Systems Theory and Automatic Control, Univ. Stuttgart

Martina Götz

Institute of Stem Cell Research, Helmholtz Zentrum München

Martin Hrabé de Angelis

Institute of Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz, Zentrum München

Rupert Lasser

Institute for Biomathematics and Biostatistics, Helmholtz Zentrum München

Thomas Meitinger

Institute of Human Genetics, Helmholtz Zentrum München

Hans-Werner Mewes

Institute for Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Helmholtz
Zentrum München

Günther Schütz

Division Molecular Biology of the Cell 1, DKFZ Heidelberg

Fabian Theis

Research Group Computational Modeling in Biology, Institute for Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum München

Ralf Zimmer

Department of Informatics LFE Bioinformatics, LMU München

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