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We show that logic computational circuits in gene regulatory networks arise from a fibration symmetry breaking in the network structure. From this idea we implement a constructive procedure that reveals a hierarchy of genetic circuits, ubiquitous across species, that are surprising analogues to the emblematic circuits of solid-state electronics: starting from the transistor and progressing to ring oscillators, current-mirror circuits to toggle switches and flip-flops. These canonical variants serve fundamental operations of synchronization and clocks (in their symmetric states) and memory storage (in their broken symmetry states). These conclusions introduce a theoretically principled strategy to search for computational building blocks in biological networks, and present a systematic route to design synthetic biological circuits.


This work was originally published in PLoS Computational Biology, available at

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.



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