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Floral Morphogenesis: Stochastic Explorations of a Gene Network Epigenetic Landscape

Alvarez-Buylla, ER; Chaos, A; Aldana, M; Benitez, M; Cortes-Poza, Y; Espinosa-Soto, C; Hartasanchez, DA; ... Padilla-Longoria, P; + view all (2008) Floral Morphogenesis: Stochastic Explorations of a Gene Network Epigenetic Landscape. PLOS ONE , 3 (11) , Article e3626. 10.1371/journal.pone.0003626. Green open access

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Abstract

In contrast to the classical view of development as a preprogrammed and deterministic process, recent studies have demonstrated that stochastic perturbations of highly non-linear systems may underlie the emergence and stability of biological patterns. Herein, we address the question of whether noise contributes to the generation of the stereotypical temporal pattern in gene expression during flower development. We modeled the regulatory network of organ identity genes in the Arabidopsis thaliana flower as a stochastic system. This network has previously been shown to converge to ten fixed-point attractors, each with gene expression arrays that characterize inflorescence cells and primordial cells of sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels. The network used is binary, and the logical rules that govern its dynamics are grounded in experimental evidence. We introduced different levels of uncertainty in the updating rules of the network. Interestingly, for a level of noise of around 0.5-10%, the system exhibited a sequence of transitions among attractors that mimics the sequence of gene activation configurations observed in real flowers. We also implemented the gene regulatory network as a continuous system using the Glass model of differential equations, that can be considered as a first approximation of kinetic-reaction equations, but which are not necessarily equivalent to the Boolean model. Interestingly, the Glass dynamics recover a temporal sequence of attractors, that is qualitatively similar, although not identical, to that obtained using the Boolean model. Thus, time ordering in the emergence of cell-fate patterns is not an artifact of synchronous updating in the Boolean model. Therefore, our model provides a novel explanation for the emergence and robustness of the ubiquitous temporal pattern of floral organ specification. It also constitutes a new approach to understanding morphogenesis, providing predictions on the population dynamics of cells with different genetic configurations during development.

Type: Article
Title: Floral Morphogenesis: Stochastic Explorations of a Gene Network Epigenetic Landscape
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003626
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0003626
Language: English
Additional information: © 2008 Álvarez-Buylla et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1406405
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