Prior work on the dynamics of Boolean networks, including analysis of the state space attractors and the basin of attraction of each attractor, has mainly focused on synchronous update of the nodes' states. Although the simplicity of synchronous updating makes it very attractive, it fails to take into account the variety of time scales associated with different types of biological processes. Several different asynchronous update methods have been proposed to overcome this limitation, but there have not been any systematic comparisons of the dynamic behaviors displayed by the same system under different update methods. Here we fill this gap by combining theoretical analysis such as solution of scalar equations and Markov chain techniques, as well as numerical simulations to carry out a thorough comparative study on the dynamic behavior of a previously proposed Boolean model of a signal transduction network in plants. Prior evidence suggests that this network admits oscillations, but it is not known whether these oscillations are sustained. We perform an attractor analysis of this system using synchronous and three different asynchronous updating schemes both in the case of the unperturbed (wild-type) and perturbed (node-disrupted) systems. This analysis reveals that while the wild-type system possesses an update-independent fixed point, any oscillations eventually disappear unless strict constraints regarding the timing of certain processes and the initial state of the system are satisfied. Interestingly, in the case of disruption of a particular node all models lead to an extended attractor. Overall, our work provides a roadmap on how Boolean network modeling can be used as a predictive tool to uncover the dynamic patterns of a biological system under various internal and environmental perturbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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