A Unifying Mathematical Framework for Genetic Robustness, Environmental Robustness, Network Robustness and their Trade-offs on Phenotype Robustness in Biological Networks. Part III: Synthetic Gene Networks in Synthetic Biology.
Robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation are ubiquitous systematic properties that are observed in biological systems at many different levels. The underlying principles for robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation are universal to both complex biological systems and sophisticated engineering systems. In many biological networks, network robustness should be large enough to confer: intrinsic robustness for tolerating intrinsic parameter fluctuations; genetic robustness for buffering genetic variations; and environmental robustness for resisting environmental disturbances. Network robustness is needed so phenotype stability of biological network can be maintained, guaranteeing phenotype robustness. Synthetic biology is foreseen to have important applications in biotechnology and medicine; it is expected to contribute significantly to a better understanding of functioning of complex biological systems. This paper presents a unifying mathematical framework for investigating the principles of both robust stabilization and environmental disturbance attenuation for synthetic gene networks in synthetic biology. Further, from the unifying mathematical framework, we found that the phenotype robustness criterion for synthetic gene networks is the following: if intrinsic robustness + genetic robustness + environmental robustness ≦ network robustness, then the phenotype robustness can be maintained in spite of intrinsic parameter fluctuations, genetic variations, and environmental disturbances. Therefore, the trade-offs between intrinsic robustness, genetic robustness, environmental robustness, and network robustness in synthetic biology can also be investigated through corresponding phenotype robustness criteria from the systematic point of view. Finally, a robust synthetic design that involves network evolution algorithms with desired behavior under intrinsic parameter fluctuations, genetic variations, and environmental disturbances, is also proposed, together with a simulation example.