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J Mol Biol. 2002 Nov 8;323(5):785-93.

Negative autoregulation speeds the response times of transcription networks.

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Department of Molecular Cell Biology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


Cells regulate gene expression using networks of transcription interactions; it is of interest to discover the principles that govern the dynamical behavior of such networks. An important characteristic of these systems is the rise-time: the delay from the initiation of production until half maximal product concentration is reached. Here we employ synthetic gene circuits in Escherichia coli to measure the rise-times of non-self-regulated and of negatively autoregulated transcription units. Non-self-regulated units have a rise-time of one cell-cycle. We demonstrate experimentally that negative autoregulation feedback (also termed autogenous control) reduces the rise-time to about one fifth of a cell-cycle. This agrees with an analytical solution of a mathematical model for negative autoregulation. This may help in understanding the function of negative autoregulation, which appears in over 40% of known transcription factors in E.coli.

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