The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 42: 479 - 485 (1998)

Vol 42, Issue 3

Special Issue: Developmental Genetics of Drosophila

Laws for the dynamics of regulatory networks

Published: 30 November -0001

R Thomas

Laboratory of Genetics, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Rhode St Genèse, Belgium.


We start our analysis from historical but too seldom quoted papers by Delbrück, Noveck & Weiner, Cohn & Horibata and Monod & Jacob. We try to show how it became possible to draw a line coupling cell differentiation to the physical concept of multistationarity, and the latter to the concept of positive feedback circuits. Two laws give the minimal logical ingredients required for differentiative and homeostatic regulations. It is briefly shown how they can be used to treat such complex dynamics as deterministaic chaos, which, admittedly, does not yet belong to the corpus of developmental biology. It was taken as a challenge to express our ideas here in purely verbal terms, avoiding any formal treatment.

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