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Artificial Life

Winter 2009, Vol. 15, No. 1, Pages 5-19
(doi: 10.1162/artl.2009.15.1.15101)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Computing Algebraic Functions with Biochemical Reaction Networks
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In biological organisms, networks of chemical reactions control the processing of information in a cell. A general approach to study the behavior of these networks is to analyze common modules. Instead of this analytical approach to study signaling networks, we construct functional motifs from the bottom up. We formulate conceptual networks of biochemical reactions that implement elementary algebraic operations over the domain and range of positive real numbers. We discuss how the steady state behavior relates to algebraic functions, and study the stability of the networks' fixed points. The primitive networks are then combined in feed-forward networks, allowing us to compute a diverse range of algebraic functions, such as polynomials. With this systematic approach, we explore the range of mathematical functions that can be constructed with these networks.