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Biophys J. 2000 Dec;79(6):2944-53.

Fluctuations in repressor control: thermodynamic constraints on stochastic focusing.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, SE-75124 Uppsala, Sweden.

Abstract

The influence of fluctuations in molecule numbers on genetic control circuits has received considerable attention. The consensus has been that such fluctuations will make regulation less precise. In contrast, it has more recently been shown that signal fluctuations can sharpen the response in a regulated process by the principle of stochastic focusing (SF) (, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 97:7148-7153). In many cases, the larger the fluctuations are, the sharper is the response. Here we investigate how fluctuations in repressor or corepressor numbers can improve the control of gene expression. Because SF is found to be constrained by detailed balance, this requires that the control loops contain driven processes out of equilibrium. Some simple and realistic out-of-equilibrium steps that will break detailed balance and make room for SF in such systems are discussed. We conclude that when the active repressors are controlled by corepressor molecules that display large ("coherent") number fluctuations or when corepressors can be irreversibly removed directly from promoter-bound repressors, the response in gene activity can become significantly sharper than without intrinsic noise. A simple experimental design to establish the possibility of SF for repressor control is suggested.

PMID:
11106602
PMCID:
PMC1301173
DOI:
10.1016/S0006-3495(00)76531-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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