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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 16;101(11):3765-9. Epub 2004 Mar 3.

Universality and flexibility in gene expression from bacteria to human.

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  • 1Laboratory for Systems Biology, Center for Developmental Biology, RIKEN, 2-2-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0047, Japan. uedah-tky@umin.ac.jp


Highly parallel experimental biology is offering opportunities to not just accomplish work more easily, but to explore for underlying governing principles. Recent analysis of the large-scale organization of gene expression has revealed its complex and dynamic nature. However, the underlying dynamics that generate complex gene expression and cellular organization are not yet understood. To comprehensively and quantitatively elucidate these underlying gene expression dynamics, we have analyzed genome-wide gene expression in many experimental conditions in Escherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana, Drosophila melanogaster, Mus musculus, and Homo sapiens. Here we demonstrate that the gene expression dynamics follows the same and surprisingly simple principle from E. coli to human, where gene expression changes are proportional to their expression levels, and show that this "proportional" dynamics or "rich-travel-more" mechanism can regenerate the observed complex and dynamic organization of the transcriptome. These findings provide a universal principle in the regulation of gene expression, show how complex and dynamic organization can emerge from simple underlying dynamics, and demonstrate the flexibility of transcription across a wide range of expression levels.

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