A Unifying Mathematical Framework for Genetic Robustness, Environmental Robustness, Network Robustness and their Trade-off on Phenotype Robustness in Biological Networks Part I: Gene Regulatory Networks in Systems and Evolutionary Biology
Chen, B.-S.; Lin, Y.-P.
Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online 9: 43-68
Robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation are ubiquitous systematic properties observed in biological systems at different levels. The underlying principles for robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation are universal to both complex biological systems and sophisticated engineering systems. In many biological networks, network robustness should be enough to confer intrinsic robustness in order to tolerate intrinsic parameter fluctuations, genetic robustness for buffering genetic variations, and environmental robustness for resisting environmental disturbances. With this, the phenotypic stability of biological network can be maintained, thus guaranteeing phenotype robustness. This paper presents a survey on biological systems and then develops a unifying mathematical framework for investigating the principles of both robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation in systems and evolutionary biology. Further, from the unifying mathematical framework, it was discovered that the phenotype robustness criterion for biological networks at different levels relies upon intrinsic robustness + genetic robustness + environmental robustness ≦ network robustness. When this is true, the phenotype robustness can be maintained in spite of intrinsic parameter fluctuations, genetic variations, and environmental disturbances. Therefore, the trade-offs between intrinsic robustness, genetic robustness, environmental robustness, and network robustness in systems and evolutionary biology can also be investigated through their corresponding phenotype robustness criterion from the systematic point of view.