Boolean modeling in systems biology: an overview of methodology and applications

Physical Biology
Rui-Sheng WangRéka Albert

Abstract

Mathematical modeling of biological processes provides deep insights into complex cellular systems. While quantitative and continuous models such as differential equations have been widely used, their use is obstructed in systems wherein the knowledge of mechanistic details and kinetic parameters is scarce. On the other hand, a wealth of molecular level qualitative data on individual components and interactions can be obtained from the experimental literature and high-throughput technologies, making qualitative approaches such as Boolean network modeling extremely useful. In this paper, we build on our research to provide a methodology overview of Boolean modeling in systems biology, including Boolean dynamic modeling of cellular networks, attractor analysis of Boolean dynamic models, as well as inferring biological regulatory mechanisms from high-throughput data using Boolean models. We finally demonstrate how Boolean models can be applied to perform the structural analysis of cellular networks. This overview aims to acquaint life science researchers with the basic steps of Boolean modeling and its applications in several areas of systems biology.

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