The role of criticality of gene regulatory networks in morphogenesis

Hyobin Kim*, Hiroki Sayama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Gene regulatory network (GRN)-based morphogenetic models have recently gained an increasing attention. However, the relationship between microscopic properties of intracellular GRNs and macroscopic properties of morphogenetic systems has not been fully understood yet. Here, we propose a theoretical morphogenetic model representing an aggregation of cells, and reveal the relationship between criticality of GRNs and morphogenetic pattern formation. In our model, the positions of the cells are determined by spring-mass-damper kinetics. Each cell has an identical Kauffman's NK random Boolean network (RBN) as its GRN. We varied the properties of GRNs from ordered, through critical, to chaotic by adjusting node in-degree K. We randomly assigned four cell fates to the attractors of RBNs for cellular behaviors. By comparing diverse morphologies generated in our morphogenetic systems, we investigated what the role of the criticality of GRNs is in forming morphologies. We found that nontrivial spatial patterns were generated most frequently when GRNs were at criticality. Our finding indicates that the criticality of GRNs facilitates the formation of nontrivial morphologies in GRN-based morphogenetic systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8491333
Pages (from-to)390-400
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Cognitive and Developmental Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell fate
  • criticality
  • gene regulatory network (GRN)
  • morphogenetic pattern
  • morphogenetic system
  • random Boolean network (RBN)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Artificial Intelligence


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of criticality of gene regulatory networks in morphogenesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this