Inferring Drosophila gap gene regulatory network: Pattern analysis of simulated gene expression profiles and stability analysis

Yves Fomekong-Nanfack, Marten Postma, Jaap Kaandorp*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Inference of gene regulatory networks (GRNs) requires accurate data, a method to simulate the expression patterns and an efficient optimization algorithm to estimate the unknown parameters. Using this approach it is possible to obtain alternative circuits without making any a priori assumptions about the interactions, which all simulate the observed patterns. It is important to analyze the properties of the circuits. Findings. We have analyzed the simulated gene expression patterns of previously obtained circuits that describe gap gene dynamics during early Drosophila melanogaster embryogenesis. Using hierarchical clustering we show that amplitude variation and defects observed in the simulated gene expression patterns are linked to similar circuits, which can be grouped. Furthermore, analysis of the long-term dynamics revealed four main dynamical attractors comprising stable patterns and oscillatory patterns. In addition, we also performed a correlation analysis on the parameters showing an intricate correlation pattern. Conclusions. The analysis demonstrates that the obtained gap gene circuits are not unique showing variable long-term dynamics and highly correlating scattered parameters. Furthermore, although the model can simulate the pattern up to gastrulation and confirms several of the known regulatory interactions, it does not reproduce the transient expression of all gap genes as observed experimentally. We suggest that the shortcomings of the model may be caused by overfitting, incomplete model description and/or missing data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number256
JournalBMC Research Notes
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


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