Mitochondrial variability as a source of extrinsic cellular noise.
ABSTRACT: We present a study investigating the role of mitochondrial variability in generating noise in eukaryotic cells. Noise in cellular physiology plays an important role in many fundamental cellular processes, including transcription, translation, stem cell differentiation and response to medication, but the specific random influences that affect these processes have yet to be clearly elucidated. Here we present a mechanism by which variability in mitochondrial volume and functionality, along with cell cycle dynamics, is linked to variability in transcription rate and hence has a profound effect on downstream cellular processes. Our model mechanism is supported by an appreciable volume of recent experimental evidence, and we present the results of several new experiments with which our model is also consistent. We find that noise due to mitochondrial variability can sometimes dominate over other extrinsic noise sources (such as cell cycle asynchronicity) and can significantly affect large-scale observable properties such as cell cycle length and gene expression levels. We also explore two recent regulatory network-based models for stem cell differentiation, and find that extrinsic noise in transcription rate causes appreciable variability in the behaviour of these model systems. These results suggest that mitochondrial and transcriptional variability may be an important mechanism influencing a large variety of cellular processes and properties.
Project description:Genetically identical cell populations exhibit considerable intercellular variation in the level of a given protein or mRNA. Both intrinsic and extrinsic sources of noise drive this variability in gene expression. More specifically, extrinsic noise is the expression variability that arises from cell-to-cell differences in cell-specific factors such as enzyme levels, cell size and cell cycle stage. In contrast, intrinsic noise is the expression variability that is not accounted for by extrinsic noise, and typically arises from the inherent stochastic nature of biochemical processes. Two-color reporter experiments are employed to decompose expression variability into its intrinsic and extrinsic noise components. Analytical formulas for intrinsic and extrinsic noise are derived for a class of stochastic gene expression models, where variations in cell-specific factors cause fluctuations in model parameters, in particular, transcription and/or translation rate fluctuations. Assuming mRNA production occurs in random bursts, transcription rate is represented by either the burst frequency (how often the bursts occur) or the burst size (number of mRNAs produced in each burst). Our analysis shows that fluctuations in the transcription burst frequency enhance extrinsic noise but do not affect the intrinsic noise. On the contrary, fluctuations in the transcription burst size or mRNA translation rate dramatically increase both intrinsic and extrinsic noise components. Interestingly, simultaneous fluctuations in transcription and translation rates arising from randomness in ATP abundance can decrease intrinsic noise measured in a two-color reporter assay. Finally, we discuss how these formulas can be combined with single-cell gene expression data from two-color reporter experiments for estimating model parameters.
Project description:Cellular signaling processes can exhibit pronounced cell-to-cell variability in genetically identical cells. This affects how individual cells respond differentially to the same environmental stimulus. However, the origins of cell-to-cell variability in cellular signaling systems remain poorly understood. Here, we measure the dynamics of phosphorylated MEK and ERK across cell populations and quantify the levels of population heterogeneity over time using high-throughput image cytometry. We use a statistical modeling framework to show that extrinsic noise, particularly that from upstream MEK, is the dominant factor causing cell-to-cell variability in ERK phosphorylation, rather than stochasticity in the phosphorylation/dephosphorylation of ERK. We furthermore show that without extrinsic noise in the core module, variable (including noisy) signals would be faithfully reproduced downstream, but the within-module extrinsic variability distorts these signals and leads to a drastic reduction in the mutual information between incoming signal and ERK activity.
Project description:Cellular heterogeneity, which plays an essential role in biological phenomena, such as drug resistance and migration, is considered to arise from intrinsic (i.e., reaction kinetics) and extrinsic (i.e., protein variability) noise in the cell. However, the mechanistic effects of these types of noise to determine the heterogeneity of signal responses have not been elucidated. Here, we report that the output of epidermal growth factor (EGF) signaling activity is modulated by cellular noise, particularly by extrinsic noise of particular signaling components in the pathway. We developed a mathematical model of the EGF signaling pathway incorporating regulation between extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and nuclear pore complex (NPC), which is necessary for switch-like activation of the nuclear ERK response. As the threshold of switch-like behavior is more sensitive to perturbations than the graded response, the effect of biological noise is potentially critical for cell fate decision. Our simulation analysis indicated that extrinsic noise, but not intrinsic noise, contributes to cell-to-cell heterogeneity of nuclear ERK. In addition, we accurately estimated variations in abundance of the signal proteins between individual cells by direct comparison of experimental data with simulation results using Apparent Measurement Error (AME). AME was constant regardless of whether the protein levels varied in a correlated manner, while covariation among proteins influenced cell-to-cell heterogeneity of nuclear ERK, suppressing the variation. Simulations using the estimated protein abundances showed that each protein species has different effects on cell-to-cell variation in the nuclear ERK response. In particular, variability of EGF receptor, Ras, Raf, and MEK strongly influenced cellular heterogeneity, while others did not. Overall, our results indicated that cellular heterogeneity in response to EGF is strongly driven by extrinsic noise, and that such heterogeneity results from variability of particular protein species that function as sensitive nodes, which may contribute to the pathogenesis of human diseases.
Project description:Stochasticity inherent to biochemical reactions (intrinsic noise) and variability in cellular states (extrinsic noise) degrade information transmitted through signaling networks. We analyzed the ability of temporal signal modulation--that is, dynamics--to reduce noise-induced information loss. In the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), calcium (Ca(2+)), and nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-?B) pathways, response dynamics resulted in significantly greater information transmission capacities compared to nondynamic responses. Theoretical analysis demonstrated that signaling dynamics has a key role in overcoming extrinsic noise. Experimental measurements of information transmission in the ERK network under varying signal-to-noise levels confirmed our predictions and showed that signaling dynamics mitigate, and can potentially eliminate, extrinsic noise-induced information loss. By curbing the information-degrading effects of cell-to-cell variability, dynamic responses substantially increase the accuracy of biochemical signaling networks.
Project description:Molecular noise refers to fluctuations of biological signals that facilitate phenotypic heterogeneity in a population. While endogenous mechanisms exist to limit genetic noise in biological systems, such restrictions are sometimes removed to propel phenotypic variability as an adaptive strategy. Herein, we review evidence for the potential role of ?-catenin in restricting gene expression noise by transcriptional and post-transcriptional mechanisms. We discuss mechanisms that restrict intrinsic noise subsequent to nuclear mobilization of ?-catenin. Nuclear ?-catenin promotes initiation of transcription but buffers against the resultant noise by restraining transcription elongation. Acceleration of cell cycle, mediated via Wnt/?-catenin downstream signals, further diminishes intrinsic noise by curtailing the efficiency of protein synthesis. Extrinsic noise, on the other hand, is restricted by ?-catenin-mediated regulation of major cellular stress pathways.
Project description:Cell-to-cell heterogeneity is driven by stochasticity in intracellular reactions and the population dynamics. While these sources are usually studied separately, we develop an agent-based framework that accounts for both factors while tracking every single cell of a growing population. Apart from the common intrinsic variability, the framework also predicts extrinsic noise without the need to introduce fluctuating rate constants. Instead, extrinsic fluctuations are explained by cell cycle fluctuations and differences in cell age. We provide explicit formulas to quantify mean molecule numbers, intrinsic and extrinsic noise statistics in two-colour experiments. We find that these statistics differ significantly depending on the experimental setup used to observe the cells. We illustrate this fact using (i) averages over an isolated cell lineage tracked over many generations as observed in the mother machine, (ii) population snapshots with known cell ages as recorded in time-lapse microscopy, and (iii) snapshots with unknown cell ages as measured from static images or flow cytometry. Applying the method to models of stochastic gene expression and feedback regulation elucidates that isolated lineages, as compared to snapshot data, can significantly overestimate the mean number of molecules, overestimate extrinsic noise but underestimate intrinsic noise and have qualitatively different sensitivities to cell cycle fluctuations.
Project description:The p53 protein is a key mediator of the cellular response to various stress signals. In response to DNA damage, the concentration of p53 can temporally oscillate with fluctuations in both the amplitude and period. The underlying mechanism for p53 variability is not fully understood. Here, we construct a core regulatory network of p53 dynamics comprising the ATM-p53-Wip1 and p53-Mdm2 negative feedback loops. We dissect the contributions of cellular heterogeneity, intrinsic noise, and multiple forms of extrinsic noise to p53 variability in terms of the coefficients of variation of four quantities. Cellular heterogeneity greatly determines the fraction of oscillating cells among a population of isogenic cells. Intrinsic noise-fluctuation in biochemical reactions-has little impact on p53 variability given large amounts of molecules, whereas extrinsic colored noise with proper strength and correlation time contributes much to oscillatory variability in individual cells. With the three sources of noise combined, our results reproduce the experimental observations, suggesting that the long correlation time of colored noise is essential to p53 variability. Compared with previous studies, the current work reveals both the individual and integrated effects of distinct noise sources on p53 variability. This study provides a framework for exploring the variability in oscillations in cellular signaling pathways.
Project description:Enhanced temporal and spatial variability in cardiac repolarization has been related to increased arrhythmic risk both clinically and experimentally. Causes and modulators of variability in repolarization and their implications in arrhythmogenesis are however not well understood. At the ionic level, the slow component of the delayed rectifier potassium current (I(Ks)) is an important determinant of ventricular repolarization. In this study, a combination of experimental and computational multiscale studies is used to investigate the role of intrinsic and extrinsic noise in I(Ks) in modulating temporal and spatial variability in ventricular repolarization in human and guinea pig. Results show that under physiological conditions: i), stochastic fluctuations in I(Ks) gating properties (i.e., intrinsic noise) cause significant beat-to-beat variability in action potential duration (APD) in isolated cells, whereas cell-to-cell differences in channel numbers (i.e., extrinsic noise) also contribute to cell-to-cell APD differences; ii), in tissue, electrotonic interactions mask the effect of I(Ks) noise, resulting in a significant decrease in APD temporal and spatial variability compared to isolated cells. Pathological conditions resulting in gap junctional uncoupling or a decrease in repolarization reserve uncover the manifestation of I(Ks) noise at cellular and tissue level, resulting in enhanced ventricular variability and abnormalities in repolarization such as afterdepolarizations and alternans.
Project description:Gene expression is a stochastic, or "noisy," process. This noise comes about in two ways. The inherent stochasticity of biochemical processes such as transcription and translation generates "intrinsic" noise. In addition, fluctuations in the amounts or states of other cellular components lead indirectly to variation in the expression of a particular gene and thus represent "extrinsic" noise. Here, we show how the total variation in the level of expression of a given gene can be decomposed into its intrinsic and extrinsic components. We demonstrate theoretically that simultaneous measurement of two identical genes per cell enables discrimination of these two types of noise. Analytic expressions for intrinsic noise are given for a model that involves all the major steps in transcription and translation. These expressions give the sensitivity to various parameters, quantify the deviation from Poisson statistics, and provide a way of fitting experiment. Transcription dominates the intrinsic noise when the average number of proteins made per mRNA transcript is greater than approximately 2. Below this number, translational effects also become important. Gene replication and cell division, included in the model, cause protein numbers to tend to a limit cycle. We calculate a general form for the extrinsic noise and illustrate it with the particular case of a single fluctuating extrinsic variable-a repressor protein, which acts on the gene of interest. All results are confirmed by stochastic simulation using plausible parameters for Escherichia coli.
Project description:Cell-to-cell variations in protein abundance, called noise, give rise to phenotypic variability between isogenic cells. Studies of noise have focused on stochasticity introduced at transcription, yet the effects of post-transcriptional regulatory processes on noise remain unknown. We study the effects of RyhB, a small-RNA of Escherichia coli produced on iron stress, on the phenotypic variability of two of its downregulated target proteins, using dual chromosomal fusions to fluorescent reporters and measurements in live individual cells. The total noise of each of the target proteins is remarkably constant over a wide range of RyhB production rates despite cells being in stress. In fact, coordinate downregulation of the two target proteins by RyhB reduces the correlation between their levels. Hence, an increase in phenotypic variability under stress is achieved by decoupling the expression of different target proteins in the same cell, rather than by an increase in the total noise of each. Extrinsic noise provides the dominant contribution to the total protein noise over the total range of RyhB production rates. Stochastic simulations reproduce qualitatively key features of our observations and show that a feed-forward loop formed by transcriptional extrinsic noise, an sRNA and its target genes exhibits strong noise filtration capabilities.