Structure-based approach to identifying small sets of driver nodes in biological networks

Eli Newby, Jorge Gomez Tejeda Zanudo, Reka Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In network control theory, driving all the nodes in the Feedback Vertex Set (FVS) by node-state override forces the network into one of its attractors (long-term dynamic behaviors). The FVS is often composed of more nodes than can be realistically manipulated in a system; for example, only up to three nodes can be controlled in intracellular networks, while their FVS may contain more than 10 nodes. Thus, we developed an approach to rank subsets of the FVS on Boolean models of intracellular networks using topological, dynamics-independent measures. We investigated the use of seven topological prediction measures sorted into three categories - centrality measures, propagation measures, and cycle-based measures. Using each measure, every subset was ranked and then evaluated against two dynamics-based metrics that measure the ability of interventions to drive the system toward or away from its attractors: To Control and Away Control. After examining an array of biological networks, we found that the FVS subsets that ranked in the top according to the propagation metrics can most effectively control the network. This result was independently corroborated on a second array of different Boolean models of biological networks. Consequently, overriding the entire FVS is not required to drive a biological network to one of its attractors, and this method provides a way to reliably identify effective FVS subsets without the knowledge of the network dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number063102
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Applied Mathematics


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