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computationally evolving cell development...

Tony Hirst A.J.Hirst at uk.ac.open
Fri Aug 19 15:38:28 EST 1994

Be forewarned - I'm a newcomer to this group on an info.quest with a
beginner's question... 

I'm just about to start looking at ways of using genetic algorithms to
implement a developmental cycle in a parallel controller for a mobile
robot, and in a fit of scrabbling for biological info. I'd appreciate brief
answers to the following questions (if poss. - i appreciate they may be
MOL-type questions...!?!)...

My understanding of DNA is that it codes for proteins(?) that are built via
mRNA working plans and tRNA builders, in the building site that is the
cytoplasm(?)...where do the building blocks come from????? 

Some of the resulting proteins(?) open a DNA filing cabinet drawer to allow
working plans for other proteins(?) to be derived and used...other proteins
are somehow instrumental in cell growth/constructing new cells - (how is
the cytoplasm/cell wall construction 'supervised', and where do the
building blocks come from?). 

Throughout the life of the cell, is the DNA being used to maintain the
right protein balance(?) in the cell (or is it only used to start the
process? ie I take it that initially, the dna and some components of the
cytoplasm form an autocatalytic set - lots of different proteins get made,
some of them feeding back DNAwards to allow new proteins to be constructed,
which might then form an autocatalytic set between themselves (proteins)
without the need for the dna - y/n? (- in the limit, if you take the dna
out of an 'adult' cell, will it live or die?))

related to the previous qn, does the cell build internal 'factories' that
take in one set of substances and give out others >without< any
'communication' with the DNA? ie is the DNA responsible for providing any
set of self-organising substances that then begin to act >independently< of
the DNA?

can protein messages (such as the ones i assume prime DNA segments for
transcription) cross between cells??? ie in a dividing cell, i can see how
some of the internal envt passes on to the 'daughter-sister' cell...but
what sort of messages pass between cells (to facilitate differentiation,
switching on different bits of DNA etc???)

relevant FAQ pointers, references to short(!) papers (with lots of
flow/cycle diagrams) and comments on the above would be much appreciated - 

- by mail, if you don't wnat to clutter this list

- by posting, if you think it's of interest/use to the group 

thanks in advance,


 All opinions etc etc...
      | Tony Hirst ("Monty")          | e-mail:  A.J.Hirst at open.ac.uk
      |                               |
      | Human Cognition Research Lab. | phone:   +44 (908) 65-4404
      | The Open University           |                    65-4481
      | Milton Keynes   MK6 6AA       | 
      | BRITAIN                       | 
      | "There is no meaning..."         "Science is a subset of art..."

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