The Design Space of the Embryonic Cell Cycle Oscillator.
One of the main tasks in the analysis of models of biomolecular networks is to characterize the domain of the parameter space that corresponds to a specific behavior. Given the large number of parameters in most models, this is no trivial task. We use a model of the embryonic cell cycle to illustrate the approaches that can be used to characterize the domain of parameter space corresponding to limit cycle oscillations, a regime that coordinates periodic entry into and exit from mitosis. Our approach relies on geometric construction of bifurcation sets, numerical continuation, and random sampling of parameters. We delineate the multidimensional oscillatory domain and use it to quantify the robustness of periodic trajectories. Although some of our techniques explore the specific features of the chosen system, the general approach can be extended to other models of the cell cycle engine and other biomolecular networks.