BioND — Dynamics of Biological Networks

Generalised modelling in systems biology

Thilo Gross
In: Benjamin MacArthur and Avi Ma'ayan (Eds.): New frontiers of network analysis in systems biology. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg , 2011.


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A major challenge in biology is to study the functioning and failure of large networks, such as metabolic pathways, gene regulatory nets, or signalling cascades. This challenge is complicated by the nonlinearity of interactions and uncertainties in the kinetic rate laws. In a generalised model, the system under consideration is restricted to a specific structure of interactions, but the rate-laws of processes need not be specified. Thus a single generalised model can describe a whole class of plausible model systems. Despite their generality, generalised models can be investigated efficiently by methods from dynamical systems theory. They can thereby provide highly robust insights into the dynamics of the system. This chapter provides a gentle introduction to generalised modelling that is geared toward applications in systems biology.