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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Feb 15;102(7):2310-5. Epub 2005 Feb 8.

Stochastic amplification and signaling in enzymatic futile cycles through noise-induced bistability with oscillations.

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Department of Bioengineering and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.


Stochastic effects in biomolecular systems have now been recognized as a major physiologically and evolutionarily important factor in the development and function of many living organisms. Nevertheless, they are often thought of as providing only moderate refinements to the behaviors otherwise predicted by the classical deterministic system description. In this work we show by using both analytical and numerical investigation that at least in one ubiquitous class of (bio)chemical-reaction mechanisms, enzymatic futile cycles, the external noise may induce a bistable oscillatory (dynamic switching) behavior that is both quantitatively and qualitatively different from what is predicted or possible deterministically. We further demonstrate that the noise required to produce these distinct properties can itself be caused by a set of auxiliary chemical reactions, making it feasible for biological systems of sufficient complexity to generate such behavior internally. This new stochastic dynamics then serves to confer additional functional modalities on the enzymatic futile cycle mechanism that include stochastic amplification and signaling, the characteristics of which could be controlled by both the type and parameters of the driving noise. Hence, such noise-induced phenomena may, among other roles, potentially offer a novel type of control mechanism in pathways that contain these cycles and the like units. In particular, observations of endogenous or externally driven noise-induced dynamics in regulatory networks may thus provide additional insight into their topology, structure, and kinetics.

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