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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40806. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040806. Epub 2012 Jul 26.

Retroactive signaling in short signaling pathways.

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Institut Non Linéaire de Nice, UMR 7335 CNRS-University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Valbonne, France.


In biochemical signaling pathways without explicit feedback connections, the core signal transduction is usually described as a one-way communication, going from upstream to downstream in a feedforward chain or network of covalent modification cycles. In this paper we explore the possibility of a new type of signaling called retroactive signaling, offered by the recently demonstrated property of retroactivity in signaling cascades. The possibility of retroactive signaling is analysed in the simplest case of the stationary states of a bicyclic cascade of signaling cycles. In this case, we work out the conditions for which variables of the upstream cycle are affected by a change of the total amount of protein in the downstream cycle, or by a variation of the phosphatase deactivating the same protein. Particularly, we predict the characteristic ranges of the downstream protein, or of the downstream phosphatase, for which a retroactive effect can be observed on the upstream cycle variables. Next, we extend the possibility of retroactive signaling in short but nonlinear signaling pathways involving a few covalent modification cycles.

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