A biological formal unit of control.
This concept has been introduced by the French biologists F. JACOB and J. MONOD, to explain dynamic coordination in biological systems.
While related to the neural net model, significant differences are pointed out by R. ROSEN: "It must be stressed that the operon is a purely formal unit. It is not a physical particle, nor is it composed of such particles. It cannot be isolated physically from the cell to which it belongs. It is thus not like a neuron in a neural net" (1979, p.182).
This opinion may now seem unduly restrictive in the light of the discovery of "homeoboxes" (very similar in mammals as well as in insects), i.e. groups of genes on specific chromosomes, which act as coordinated and sequential organizers of the whole living system (W. GEHRING, 1995, p.58-64).
Operons correspond thus to the potential properties of this kind of global basic templates, which remained astoundingly stable during eons of evolution.
Operons and homeoboxes introduce the intriguing question of the possible existence of a still more general systemic organizing principle active through different ways in systems of all kinds.
(For more discussion of this difficult notion, see references)
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Bertalanffy Center for the Study of Systems Science (2020). Title of the entry. In Charles François (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Systems and Cybernetics (2). Retrieved from www.systemspedia.org/[full/url]
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