Scaling and proportions: modelling the gap gene network in Drosophila
Radhika Nagpal

Many organisms exhibit the ability to regulate development correctly in spite of large variations in embryo size. The ability to do so could provide robustness in the face of cell death and other accidents during development; it could also allow size to change easily from one species to another without disturbing development.

However for a complex cascade of patterning to exhibit scale-independence, implies a number of constraints at each level of the cascade. These constraints could inform us about the validity of current models of those cascades. For example, recent results suggest that Drosophila embryos exhibit scaling in a way that is problematic for current throries of how the gap gene network works. One of my recent interests has been in using simulation models to explore what constraints are missing/necessary to explain scale-independent pattern regulation in Drosophila.

In the process of thinking about modeling this system, it became clear that there are many choices on how to model the gap gene network and it is not so obvious how to choose the correct level at which to simulate. So I will talk about some of the approaches to modelling the gap gene network in Drosophila that have been pursued in the past, and discuss how appropriate they are to thinking about scaling. I will also talk about how more precise ways of writing networks could make it much easier to simulate and reason about genetic networks.