Stochastic pulse regulation in bacterial stress response.
ABSTRACT: Gene regulatory circuits can use dynamic, and even stochastic, strategies to respond to environmental conditions. We examined activation of the general stress response mediated by the alternative sigma factor, ?(B), in individual Bacillus subtilis cells. We observed that energy stress activates ?(B) in discrete stochastic pulses, with increasing levels of stress leading to higher pulse frequencies. By perturbing and rewiring the endogenous system, we found that this behavior results from three key features of the ?(B) circuit: an ultrasensitive phosphorylation switch; stochasticity ("noise"), which activates that switch; and a mixed (positive and negative) transcriptional feedback, which can both amplify a pulse and switch it off. Together, these results show how prokaryotes encode signals using stochastic pulse frequency modulation through a compact regulatory architecture.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Transcriptional regulation involves protein-DNA and protein-protein interactions. Protein-DNA interactions involve reactants that are present in low concentrations, leading to stochastic behavior. In addition, multiple regulatory mechanisms are typically involved in transcriptional regulation. In the GAL regulatory system of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the inhibition of glucose is accomplished through two regulatory mechanisms: one through the transcriptional repressor Mig1p, and the other through regulating the amount of transcriptional activator Gal4p. However, the impact of stochasticity in gene expression and hierarchy in regulatory mechanisms on the phenotypic level is not clearly understood. RESULTS: We address the question of quantifying the effect of stochasticity inherent in these regulatory mechanisms on the performance of various genes under the regulation of Mig1p and Gal4p using a dynamic stochastic model. The stochastic analysis reveals the importance of both the mechanisms of regulation for tight expression of genes in the GAL network. The mechanism involving Gal4p is the dominant mechanism, yielding low variability in the expression of GAL genes. The mechanism involving Mig1p is necessary to maintain the switch-like response of certain GAL genes. The number of binding sites for Mig1p and Gal4p further influences the expression of the genes, with extra binding sites lowering the variability of expression. Our experiments involving growth on various substrates show that the trends predicted in mean expression and its variability are transmitted to the phenotypic level. CONCLUSION: The mechanisms involved in the transcriptional regulation and their variability set up a hierarchy in the phenotypic response to growth on various substrates. Structural motifs, such as the number of binding sites and the mechanism of regulation, determine the level of stochasticity and eventually, the phenotypic response.
Project description:The cellular recognition of viruses evokes the secretion of type-I interferons (IFNs) that induce an antiviral protective state. By live-cell imaging, we show that key steps of virus-induced signal transduction, IFN-? expression, and induction of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) are stochastic events in individual cells. The heterogeneity in IFN production is of cellular-and not viral-origin, and temporal unpredictability of IFN-? expression is largely due to cell-intrinsic noise generated both upstream and downstream of the activation of nuclear factor-?B and IFN regulatory factor transcription factors. Subsequent ISG induction occurs as a stochastic all-or-nothing switch, where the responding cells are protected against virus replication. Mathematical modelling and experimental validation show that reliable antiviral protection in the face of multi-layered cellular stochasticity is achieved by paracrine response amplification. Achieving coherent responses through intercellular communication is likely to be a more widely used strategy by mammalian cells to cope with pervasive stochasticity in signalling and gene expression.
Project description:A robust cellular counter could enable synthetic biologists to design complex circuits with diverse behaviors. The existing synthetic-biological counters, responsive to the beginning of the pulse, are sensitive to the pulse duration. Here we present a pulse detecting circuit that responds only at the falling edge of a pulse-analogous to negative edge triggered electric circuits. As biological events do not follow precise timing, use of such a pulse detector would enable the design of robust asynchronous counters which can count the completion of events. This transcription-based pulse detecting circuit depends on the interaction of two co-expressed lambdoid phage-derived proteins: the first is unstable and inhibits the regulatory activity of the second, stable protein. At the end of the pulse the unstable inhibitor protein disappears from the cell and the second protein triggers the recording of the event completion. Using stochastic simulation we showed that the proposed design can detect the completion of the pulse irrespective to the pulse duration. In our simulation we also showed that fusing the pulse detector with a phage lambda memory element we can construct a counter which can be extended to count larger numbers. The proposed design principle is a new control mechanism for synthetic biology which can be integrated in different circuits for identifying the completion of an event.
Project description:We investigate a practical technology for reconstructing nanosecond pulse noisy images via stochastic resonance, which is based on the modulation instability. A theoretical model of this method for optical pulse signal is built to effectively recover the pulse image. The nanosecond noise-hidden images grow at the expense of noise during the stochastic resonance process in a photorefractive medium. The properties of output images are mainly determined by the input signal-to-noise intensity ratio, the applied voltage across the medium, and the correlation length of noise background. A high cross-correlation gain is obtained by optimizing these parameters. This provides a potential method for detecting low-level or hidden pulse images in various imaging applications.
Project description:Signatures of stochastic effects in the radiation of a relativistic electron beam interacting with a counterpropagating superstrong short focused laser pulse are investigated in a quantum regime when the electron's radiation dominates its dynamics. We consider the electron-laser interaction at near-reflection conditions when pronounced high-energy gamma-ray bursts arise in the backward-emission direction with respect to the initial motion of the electrons. The quantum stochastic nature of the gamma-photon emission is exhibited in the angular distributions of the radiation and explained in an intuitive picture. Although, the visibility of the stochasticity signatures depends on the laser and electron beam parameters, the signatures are of a qualitative nature and robust. The stochasticity, a fundamental quantum property of photon emission, should thus be measurable rather straightforwardly with laser technology available in near future.
Project description:The lac operon genetic switch is considered as a paradigm of genetic regulation. This system has a positive feedback loop due to the LacY permease boosting its own production by the facilitated transport of inducer into the cell and the subsequent de-repression of the lac operon genes. Previously, we have investigated the effect of stochasticity in an artificial lac operon network at the single cell level by comparing corresponding deterministic and stochastic kinetic models.This work focuses on the dynamics of cell populations by incorporating the above kinetic scheme into two Monte Carlo (MC) simulation frameworks. The first MC framework assumes stochastic reaction occurrence, accounts for stochastic DNA duplication, division and partitioning and tracks all daughter cells to obtain the statistics of the entire cell population. In order to better understand how stochastic effects shape cell population distributions, we develop a second framework that assumes deterministic reaction dynamics. By comparing the predictions of the two frameworks, we conclude that stochasticity can create or destroy bimodality, and may enhance phenotypic heterogeneity.Our results show how various sources of stochasticity act in synergy with the positive feedback architecture, thereby shaping the behavior at the cell population level. Further, the insights obtained from the present study allow us to construct simpler and less computationally intensive models that can closely approximate the dynamics of heterogeneous cell populations.
Project description:Transcription of genes can be discontinuous, occurring in pulses or bursts. It is not clear how properties of transcriptional pulses vary between different genes. We compared the pulsing of five housekeeping and five developmentally induced genes by direct imaging of single gene transcriptional events in individual living Dictyostelium cells. Each gene displayed its own transcriptional signature, differing in probability of firing and pulse duration, frequency, and intensity. In contrast to the prevailing view from both prokaryotes and eukaryotes that transcription displays binary behavior, strongly expressed housekeeping genes altered the magnitude of their transcriptional pulses during development. These nonbinary "tunable" responses may be better suited than stochastic switch behavior for housekeeping functions. Analysis of RNA synthesis kinetics using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching implied modulation of housekeeping-gene pulse strength occurs at the level of transcription initiation rather than elongation. In addition, disparities between single cell and population measures of transcript production suggested differences in RNA stability between gene classes. Analysis of stability using RNAseq revealed no major global differences in stability between developmental and housekeeping transcripts, although strongly induced RNAs showed unusually rapid decay, indicating tight regulation of expression.
Project description:The rewiring of gene regulatory networks can generate phenotypic novelty. It remains an open question, however, how the large number of connections needed to form a novel network arise over evolutionary time. Here, we address this question using the network controlled by the fungal transcription regulator Ndt80. This conserved protein has undergone a dramatic switch in function-from an ancestral role regulating sporulation to a derived role regulating biofilm formation. This switch in function corresponded to a large-scale rewiring of the genes regulated by Ndt80. However, we demonstrate that the Ndt80-target gene connections were undergoing extensive rewiring prior to the switch in Ndt80's regulatory function. We propose that extensive drift in the Ndt80 regulon allowed for the exploration of alternative network structures without a loss of ancestral function, thereby facilitating the formation of a network with a new function.
Project description:A striking characteristic of cancer cells is their remarkable phenotypic plasticity, which is the ability to switch states or phenotypes in response to environmental fluctuations. Phenotypic changes such as a partial or complete epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) that play important roles in their survival and proliferation, and development of resistance to therapeutic treatments, are widely believed to arise due to somatic mutations in the genome. However, there is a growing concern that such a deterministic view is not entirely consistent with multiple lines of evidence, which indicate that stochasticity may also play an important role in driving phenotypic plasticity. Here, we discuss how stochasticity in protein interaction networks (PINs) may play a key role in determining phenotypic plasticity in prostate cancer (PCa). Specifically, we point out that the key players driving transitions among different phenotypes (epithelial, mesenchymal, and hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal), including ZEB1, SNAI1, OVOL1, and OVOL2, are intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) and discuss how plasticity at the molecular level may contribute to stochasticity in phenotypic switching by rewiring PINs. We conclude by suggesting that targeting IDPs implicated in EMT in PCa may be a new strategy to gain additional insights and develop novel treatments for this disease, which is the most common form of cancer in adult men.
Project description:We present a theory of pluralistic and stochastic gene regulation. To bridge the gap between empirical studies and mathematical models, we integrate pre-existing observations with our meta-analyses of the ENCODE ChIP-Seq experiments. Earlier evidence includes fluctuations in levels, location, activity, and binding of transcription factors, variable DNA motifs, and bursts in gene expression. Stochastic regulation is also indicated by frequently subdued effects of knockout mutants of regulators, their evolutionary losses/gains and massive rewiring of regulatory sites. We report wide-spread pluralistic regulation in ?800 000 tightly co-expressed pairs of diverse human genes. Typically, half of ?50 observed regulators bind to both genes reproducibly, twice more than in independently expressed gene pairs. We also examine the largest set of co-expressed genes, which code for cytoplasmic ribosomal proteins. Numerous regulatory complexes are highly significant enriched in ribosomal genes compared to highly expressed non-ribosomal genes. We could not find any DNA-associated, strict sense master regulator. Despite major fluctuations in transcription factor binding, our machine learning model accurately predicted transcript levels using binding sites of 20+ regulators. Our pluralistic and stochastic theory is consistent with partially random binding patterns, redundancy, stochastic regulator binding, burst-like expression, degeneracy of binding motifs and massive regulatory rewiring during evolution.