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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 May 15;102(19):198104. Epub 2009 May 15.

Queueing phase transition: theory of translation.

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  • 1Institute for Complex Systems and Mathematical Biology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UE, United Kingdom.


We study the current of particles on a lattice, where to each site a different hopping probability has been associated and the particles can move only in one direction. We show that the queueing of the particles behind a slow site can lead to a first-order phase transition, and derive analytical expressions for the configuration of slow sites for this to happen. We apply this stochastic model to describe the translation of mRNAs. We show that the first-order phase transition, uncovered in this work, is the process responsible for the classification of the proteins having different biological functions.

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