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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2002 Jan;3(1):30-40.

MAPK-regulated transcription: a continuously variable gene switch?

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  • 1Nuclear Signalling Laboratory, Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QU, UK.


Switching mechanisms that control genes could be viewed either as stable binary switches, in which genes exist in 'on' or 'off' states; or as quantitative rheostat-like switches, in which the rate of transcription is continuously variable and coupled directly to the strength of intracellular signalling events. Here, we discuss the biological need for quantitative gene regulation and, using mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-controlled transcription as a model, assess the evidence for its existence and postulate mechanisms by which it might occur.

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