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Artificial Life

Fall 2012, Vol. 18, No. 4, Pages 425-444
(doi: 10.1162/ARTL_a_00075)
© 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Evolution and Analysis of Genetic Networks for Stable Cellular Growth and Regeneration
Article PDF (1.44 MB)

A computational model is presented that simulates stable growth of cellular structures that are in some cases capable of regeneration. In the model, cellular growth is governed by a gene regulatory network. By evolving the parameters and structure of the genetic network using a modified evolution strategy, a dynamically stable state can be achieved in the developmental process, where cell proliferation and cell apoptosis reach an equilibrium. The results of evolution with different setups in fitness evaluation during the development are compared with respect to their regeneration capability as well as their gene regulatory network structure. Network motifs responsible for stable growth and regeneration that emerged from the evolution are also analyzed. We expect that our findings can help to gain a better understanding of the process of growth and regeneration inspired by biological systems, in order to solve complex engineering problems, such as the design of self-healing materials.