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Logo of nihpaAbout Author manuscriptsSubmit a manuscriptNIH Public Access; Author Manuscript; Accepted for publication in peer reviewed journal;
Mol Cell. Author manuscript; available in PMC May 5, 2008.
Published in final edited form as:
PMCID: PMC2366073

Diverse Two-Dimensional Input-Functions Control Bacterial Sugar Genes


Cells respond to signals by regulating gene-expression. The relation between the level of input signals and the transcription rate of the gene is called the gene's input-function. Since most genes are regulated by more than one signal, the input-functions are usually multi-dimensional. To understand cellular responses, it is essential to know the shapes of these functions. Here, we map the two-dimensional input-functions of 19 sugar-utilization genes at high-resolution in living E. coli cells. We find diverse, intricately shaped input-functions, despite the similarity in the regulatory circuitry of these genes. Surprisingly, some of the input-functions are non-monotonic, peaking at intermediate signal levels. Furthermore, most of the input-functions show separation of variables, in the sense that they can be described as the product of simple functions that depend on a single input. This first broad survey of two-dimensional input-functions can be extended to map the logic of gene regulation in other systems.

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