Z. Li, Q. Yang
Cell Systems 5(1): 72-81 e4 (2017)
Robust biological oscillators retain the critical ability to function in the presence of environmental perturbations. Although central architectures that support robust oscillations have been extensively studied, networks containing the same core vary drastically in their potential to oscillate, and it remains elusive what peripheral modifications to the core contribute to this functional variation. Here, we have generated a complete atlas of two- and three-node oscillators computationally, then systematically analyzed the
association between network structure and robustness. We found that, while certain core topologies are essential for producing a robust oscillator, local structures can substantially modulate the robustness of oscillations. Notably, local nodes receiving incoherent or coherent inputs respectively promote or attenuate the overall network robustness in an additive manner. We validated these relationships in larger-scale networks reflective of real biological oscillators. Our findings provide an explanation for why auxiliary structures not required for oscillation are evolutionarily conserved and suggest simple ways to evolve or design robust oscillators.