Positive feedback promotes oscillations in negative feedback loops.
ABSTRACT: A simple three-component negative feedback loop is a recurring motif in biochemical oscillators. This motif oscillates as it has the three necessary ingredients for oscillations: a three-step delay, negative feedback, and nonlinearity in the loop. However, to oscillate, this motif under the common Goodwin formulation requires a high degree of cooperativity (a measure of nonlinearity) in the feedback that is biologically "unlikely." Moreover, this recurring negative feedback motif is commonly observed augmented by positive feedback interactions. Here we show that these positive feedback interactions promote oscillation at lower degrees of cooperativity, and we can thus unify several common kinetic mechanisms that facilitate oscillations, such as self-activation and Michaelis-Menten degradation. The positive feedback loops are most beneficial when acting on the shortest lived component, where they function by balancing the lifetimes of the different components. The benefits of multiple positive feedback interactions are cumulative for a majority of situations considered, when benefits are measured by the reduction in the cooperativity required to oscillate. These positive feedback motifs also allow oscillations with longer periods than that determined by the lifetimes of the components alone. We can therefore conjecture that these positive feedback loops have evolved to facilitate oscillations at lower, kinetically achievable, degrees of cooperativity. Finally, we discuss the implications of our conclusions on the mammalian molecular clock, a system modeled extensively based on the three-component negative feedback loop.
Project description:Intracellular protein levels of p53 and MDM2 have been shown to oscillate in response to ionizing radiation (IR), but the physiological significance of these oscillations remains unclear. The p53-MDM2 negative feedback loop -- the putative cause of the oscillations -- is embedded in a network involving a mutual antagonism (or positive feedback loop) between p53 and AKT. We have shown earlier that this p53-AKT network predicts an all-or-none switching behavior between a pro-survival cellular state (low p53 and high AKT levels) and a pro-apoptotic state (high p53 and low AKT levels). Here, we show that upon exposure to IR, the p53-AKT network can also reproduce the experimentally observed p53 and MDM2 oscillations. The present work is based on the hypothesis that the physiological significance of the experimentally observed oscillations could be found in their role in regulating the switching behavior of the p53-AKT network between pro-survival and pro-apoptotic states. It is shown here that these oscillations are associated with a significant decrease in the threshold level of IR at which switching from a pro-survival to a pro-apoptotic state occurs. Moreover, oscillations in p53 protein levels induce higher levels of expression of p53-target genes compared to non-oscillatory p53, and thus influence cell-fate decisions between cell cycle arrest/DNA damage repair versus apoptosis.
Project description:Negative and positive transcriptional feedback loops are present in natural and synthetic genetic oscillators. A single gene with negative transcriptional feedback needs a time delay and sufficiently strong nonlinearity in the transmission of the feedback signal in order to produce biochemical rhythms. A single gene with only positive transcriptional feedback does not produce oscillations. Here, we demonstrate that this single-gene network in conjunction with a simple negative interaction can also easily produce rhythms. We examine a model comprised of two well-differentiated parts. The first is a positive feedback created by a protein that binds to the promoter of its own gene and activates the transcription. The second is a negative interaction in which a repressor molecule prevents this protein from binding to its promoter. A stochastic study shows that the system is robust to noise. A deterministic study identifies that the dynamics of the oscillator are mainly driven by two types of biomolecules: the protein, and the complex formed by the repressor and this protein. The main conclusion of this paper is that a simple and usual negative interaction, such as degradation, sequestration or inhibition, acting on the positive transcriptional feedback of a single gene is a sufficient condition to produce reliable oscillations. One gene is enough and the positive transcriptional feedback signal does not need to activate a second repressor gene. This means that at the genetic level an explicit negative feedback loop is not necessary. The model needs neither cooperative binding reactions nor the formation of protein multimers. Therefore, our findings could help to clarify the design principles of cellular clocks and constitute a new efficient tool for engineering synthetic genetic oscillators.
Project description:Some biological networks exhibit oscillations in their components to convert stimuli to time-dependent responses. The eukaryotic cell cycle is such a case, being governed by waves of cyclin-dependent kinase (cyclin/Cdk) activities that rise and fall with specific timing and guarantee its timely occurrence. Disruption of cyclin/Cdk oscillations could result in dysfunction through reduced cell division. Therefore, it is of interest to capture properties of network designs that exhibit robust oscillations. Here we show that a minimal yeast cell cycle network is able to oscillate autonomously, and that cyclin/Cdk-mediated positive feedback loops (PFLs) and Clb3-centered regulations sustain cyclin/Cdk oscillations, in known and hypothetical network designs. We propose that Clb3-mediated coordination of cyclin/Cdk waves reconciles checkpoint and oscillatory cell cycle models. Considering the evolutionary conservation of the cyclin/Cdk network across eukaryotes, we hypothesize that functional ("healthy") phenotypes require the capacity to oscillate autonomously whereas dysfunctional (potentially "diseased") phenotypes may lack this capacity.
Project description:Cellular rhythms are generated by complex interactions among genes, proteins and metabolites. They are used to control every aspect of cell physiology, from signalling, motility and development to growth, division and death. We consider specific examples of oscillatory processes and discuss four general requirements for biochemical oscillations: negative feedback, time delay, sufficient 'nonlinearity' of the reaction kinetics and proper balancing of the timescales of opposing chemical reactions. Positive feedback is one mechanism to delay the negative-feedback signal. Biological oscillators can be classified according to the topology of the positive- and negative-feedback loops in the underlying regulatory mechanism.
Project description:By integrating positive and negative feedback loops, biological systems establish intricate gene expression patterns linked to multistability, pulsing, and oscillations. This depends on the specific characteristics of each interlinked feedback, and thus one would expect additional expression programs to be found. Here, we investigate one such program associated with an antagonistic positive and negative transcriptional autoregulatory motif derived from the multiple antibiotic resistance (mar) system of Escherichia coli. We studied the dynamics of the system by combining a predictive mathematical model with high-resolution experimental measures of the response both at the population and single-cell level. We show that in this motif the weak positive autoregulation does not slow down but rather enhances response speedup in combination with a strong negative feedback loop. This balance of feedback strengths anticipates a homogeneous population phenotype, which we corroborate experimentally. Theoretical analysis also emphasized the specific molecular properties that determine the dynamics of the mar phenotype. More broadly, response acceleration could provide a rationale for the presence of weak positive feedbacks in other biological scenarios exhibiting these interlinked regulatory architectures.
Project description:Periodic oscillations play a key role in cell physiology from the cell cycle to circadian clocks. The interplay of positive and negative feedback loops among genes and proteins is ubiquitous in these networks. Often, delays in a negative feedback loop and/or degradation rates are a crucial mechanism to obtain sustained oscillations. How does nature control delays and kinetic rates in feedback networks? Known mechanisms include proper selection of the number of steps composing a feedback loop and alteration of protease activity, respectively. Here, we show that a remarkably simple means to control both delays and effective kinetic rates is the employment of DNA binding sites. We illustrate this design principle on a widely studied activator-repressor clock motif, which is ubiquitous in natural systems. By suitably employing DNA target sites for the activator and/or the repressor, one can switch the clock "on" and "off" and precisely tune its period to a desired value. Our study reveals a design principle to engineer dynamic behavior in biomolecular networks, which may be largely exploited by natural systems and employed for the rational design of synthetic circuits.
Project description:We formulated a computational model for a MAPK signaling cascade downstream of the EGF receptor to investigate how interlinked positive and negative feedback loops process EGF signals into ERK pulses of constant amplitude but dose-dependent duration and frequency. A positive feedback loop involving RAS and SOS, which leads to bistability and allows for switch-like responses to inputs, is nested within a negative feedback loop that encompasses RAS and RAF, MEK, and ERK that inhibits SOS via phosphorylation. This negative feedback, operating on a longer time scale, changes switch-like behavior into oscillations having a period of 1?hour or longer. Two auxiliary negative feedback loops, from ERK to MEK and RAF, placed downstream of the positive feedback, shape the temporal ERK activity profile but are dispensable for oscillations. Thus, the positive feedback introduces a hierarchy among negative feedback loops, such that the effect of a negative feedback depends on its position with respect to the positive feedback loop. Furthermore, a combination of the fast positive feedback involving slow-diffusing membrane components with slower negative feedbacks involving faster diffusing cytoplasmic components leads to local excitation/global inhibition dynamics, which allows the MAPK cascade to transmit paracrine EGF signals into spatially non-uniform ERK activity pulses.
Project description:Oscillators and switches are important elements of regulation in biological systems. These are composed of coupling negative feedback loops, which cause oscillations when delayed, and positive feedback loops, which lead to memory formation. Here, we examine the behavior of a coupled feedback system, the Negative Autoregulated Frustrated bistability motif (NAF). This motif is a combination of two previously explored motifs, the frustrated bistability motif (FBM) and the negative auto regulation motif (NAR), which both can produce oscillations. The NAF motif was previously suggested to govern long term memory formation in animals, and was used as a synthetic oscillator in bacteria. We build a mathematical model to analyze the dynamics of the NAF motif. We show analytically that the NAF motif requires an asymmetry in the strengths of activation and repression links in order to produce oscillations. We show that the effect of time delays in eukaryotic cells, originating from mRNA export and protein import, are negligible in this system. Based on the reported protein and mRNA half-lives in eukaryotic cells, we find that even though the NAF motif possesses the ability for oscillations, it mostly promotes constant protein expression at the biologically relevant parameter regimes.
Project description:One of the key mechanisms that mediate renal autoregulation is the tubuloglomerular feedback (TGF) system, which is a negative feedback loop in the kidney that balances glomerular filtration with tubular reabsorptive capacity. Tubular fluid flow, NaCl concentration and other related variables are known to exhibit TGF-mediated oscillations. In this study, we used a mathematical model of the thick ascending limb (TAL) of a short loop of Henle of the rat kidney to study the effects of (i) spatially inhomogeneous TAL NaCl active transport rate, (ii) spatially inhomogeneous tubular radius and (iii) compliance of the tubular walls on TGF-mediated dynamics. A bifurcation analysis of the TGF model equations was performed by deriving a characteristic equation and finding its roots. Results of the bifurcation analysis were validated via numerical simulations of the full model equations. Model results suggest that a higher TAL NaCl active transport rate or a smaller TAL radius near the loop bend gives rise to stable oscillatory solutions at sufficiently high TGF gain values, even with zero TGF delay. In addition, when the TAL walls are assumed to be compliant, the TGF system exhibits a heightened tendency to oscillate, a result that is consistent with predictions of a previous modelling study.
Project description:A key circuit in the response of cells to damage is the p53-mdm2 feedback loop. This circuit shows sustained, noisy oscillations in individual human cells following DNA breaks. Here, we apply an engineering approach known as systems identification to quantify the in vivo interactions in the circuit on the basis of accurate measurements of its power spectrum. We obtained oscillation time courses of p53 and Mdm2 protein levels from several hundred cells and analyzed their Fourier spectra. We find characteristic spectra with distinct low-frequency components that are well-described by a third-order linear model with white noise. The model identifies the sign and strength of the known interactions, including a negative feedback loop between p53 and its upstream regulator. It also implies that noise can trigger and maintain the oscillations. The model also captures the power spectra of p53 dynamics without DNA damage. Parameters such as noise amplitudes and protein lifetimes are estimated. This approach employs natural biological noise as a diagnostic that stimulates the system at many frequencies at once. It seems to be a useful way to find the in vivo design of circuits and may be applied to other systems by monitoring their power spectrum in individual cells.