Orkun Soyer has just finished his excellent presentation at CoSBi on the use of toy models for understanding the principles that govern biological pathways, in particular signaling pathways. One can obviously imagine several scenarios for how pathways came about:
The key point, however, is that we might be able to understand something about pathways through computational studies of simple toy models. The toy model discussed throughout the talk was bacterial chemotaxis:
The idea is that evolution can to some extend be approximated as an optimization process, in which the objective function corresponds to fitness. In case of the “tumble or swim” problem, computational simulations allowed simple regulatory network to evolve that mimic the food-finding behavior of bacteria.
He also presented an interesting view on how biological complexity has evolved. The idea is to show how complex systems can evolve even if assuming a (weak) selection against complexity:
I think that his results provide a lot of insight into how real signaling may have evolved, although all the simulations are based on simplistic toy models. I recommend that you download Orkun Soyer’s slides if you want to know more.
This talk ends the Computational and Systems Biology course at CoSBi.