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Trends Biochem Sci. 2014 Dec;39(12):612-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2014.10.002. Epub 2014 Nov 10.

Ultrasensitivity part III: cascades, bistable switches, and oscillators.

Author information

1
Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford CA 94305-5174, USA. Electronic address: james.ferrell@stanford.edu.
2
Department of Chemical and Systems Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford CA 94305-5174, USA.

Abstract

Switch-like, ultrasensitive responses - responses that resemble those of cooperative enzymes but are not necessarily generated by cooperativity - are widespread in signal transduction. In the previous installments in this series, we reviewed several mechanisms for generating ultrasensitivity: zero-order ultrasensitivity; multistep ultrasensitivity; inhibitor ultrasensitivity; and positive feedback (or double negative feedback) loops. In this review, we focus on how ultrasensitive components can be important for the functioning of more complex signaling circuits. Ultrasensitivity can allow the effective transmission of signals down a signaling cascade, can contribute to the generation of bistability by positive feedback, and can promote the production of biochemical oscillations in negative feedback loops. This makes ultrasensitivity a key building block in systems biology and synthetic biology.

KEYWORDS:

bistability; limit cycle oscillations; negative feedback; positive feedback; signaling cascades; ultrasensitivity

PMID:
25456048
PMCID:
PMC4254632
DOI:
10.1016/j.tibs.2014.10.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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