Role of network-mediated stochasticity in mammalian drug resistance.
ABSTRACT: A major challenge in biology is that genetically identical cells in the same environment can display gene expression stochasticity (noise), which contributes to bet-hedging, drug tolerance, and cell-fate switching. The magnitude and timescales of stochastic fluctuations can depend on the gene regulatory network. Currently, it is unclear how gene expression noise of specific networks impacts the evolution of drug resistance in mammalian cells. Answering this question requires adjusting network noise independently from mean expression. Here, we develop positive and negative feedback-based synthetic gene circuits to decouple noise from the mean for Puromycin resistance gene expression in Chinese Hamster Ovary cells. In low Puromycin concentrations, the high-noise, positive-feedback network delays long-term adaptation, whereas it facilitates adaptation under high Puromycin concentration. Accordingly, the low-noise, negative-feedback circuit can maintain resistance by acquiring mutations while the positive-feedback circuit remains mutation-free and regains drug sensitivity. These findings may have profound implications for chemotherapeutic inefficiency and cancer relapse.
Project description:Evolutionary reversibility-the ability to regain a lost function-is an important problem both in evolutionary and synthetic biology, where repairing natural or synthetic systems broken by evolutionary processes may be valuable. Here, we use a synthetic positive-feedback (PF) gene circuit integrated into haploid Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells to test if the population can restore lost PF function. In previous evolution experiments, mutations in a gene eliminated the fitness costs of PF activation. Since PF activation also provides drug resistance, exposing such compromised or broken mutants to both drug and inducer should create selection pressure to regain drug resistance and possibly PF function. Indeed, evolving 7 PF mutant strains in the presence of drug revealed 3 adaptation scenarios through genomic, PF-external mutations that elevate PF basal expression, possibly by affecting transcription, translation, degradation, and other fundamental cellular processes. Nonfunctional mutants gained drug resistance without ever developing high expression, while quasifunctional and dysfunctional PF mutants developed high expression nongenetically, which then diminished, although more slowly for dysfunctional mutants where revertant clones arose. These results highlight how intracellular context, such as the growth rate, can affect regulatory network dynamics and evolutionary dynamics, which has important consequences for understanding the evolution of drug resistance and developing future synthetic biology applications.
Project description:Mechanical resonators are widely used as precision clocks and sensitive detectors that rely on the stability of their eigenfrequencies. The phase noise is determined by different factors including thermal noise, frequency noise of the resonator and noise in the feedback circuitry. Increasing the vibration amplitude can mitigate some of these effects but the improvements are limited by nonlinearities that are particularly strong for miniaturized micro- and nano-mechanical systems. Here we design a micromechanical resonator with non-monotonic dependence of the eigenfrequency on energy. Near the extremum, where the dispersion of the eigenfrequency is zero, the system regains certain characteristics of a linear resonator, albeit at large amplitudes. The spectral peak undergoes narrowing when the noise intensity is increased. With the resonator serving as the frequency-selecting element in a feedback loop, the phase noise at the extremum amplitude is ~3 times smaller than the minimal noise in the conventional nonlinear regime.
Project description:It is well known that noise is inevitable in gene regulatory networks due to the low-copy numbers of molecules and local environmental fluctuations. The prediction of noise effects is a key issue in ensuring reliable transmission of information. Interlinked positive and negative feedback loops are essential signal transduction motifs in biological networks. Positive feedback loops are generally believed to induce a switch-like behavior, whereas negative feedback loops are thought to suppress noise effects. Here, by using the signal sensitivity (susceptibility) and noise amplification to quantify noise propagation, we analyze an abstract model of the Myc/E2F/MiR-17-92 network that is composed of a coupling between the E2F/Myc positive feedback loop and the E2F/Myc/miR-17-92 negative feedback loop. The role of the feedback loop on noise effects is found to depend on the dynamic properties of the system. When the system is in monostability or bistability with high protein concentrations, noise is consistently suppressed. However, the negative feedback loop reduces this suppression ability (or improves the noise propagation) and enhances signal sensitivity. In the case of excitability, bistability, or monostability, noise is enhanced at low protein concentrations. The negative feedback loop reduces this noise enhancement as well as the signal sensitivity. In all cases, the positive feedback loop acts contrary to the negative feedback loop. We also found that increasing the time scale of the protein module or decreasing the noise autocorrelation time can enhance noise suppression; however, the systems sensitivity remains unchanged. Taken together, our results suggest that the negative/positive feedback mechanisms in coupled feedback loop dynamically buffer noise effects rather than only suppressing or amplifying the noise.
Project description:Understanding the relationship between genotype and phenotype is a challenge in systems biology. An interesting yet related issue is why a particular circuit topology is present in a cell when the same function can supposedly be obtained from an alternative architecture. Here we analyzed two topologically equivalent genetic circuits of coupled positive and negative feedback loops, named NAT and ALT circuits, respectively. The computational search for the oscillation volume of the entire biologically reasonable parameter region through large-scale random samplings shows that the NAT circuit exhibits a distinctly larger fraction of the oscillatory region than the ALT circuit. Such a global robustness difference between two circuits is supplemented by analyzing local robustness, including robustness to parameter perturbations and to molecular noise. In addition, detailed dynamical analysis shows that the molecular noise of both circuits can induce transient switching of the different mechanism between a stable steady state and a stable limit cycle. Our investigation on robustness and dynamics through examples provides insights into the relationship between network architecture and its function.
Project description:For cellular biochemical reaction systems where the numbers of molecules is small, significant noise is associated with chemical reaction events. This molecular noise can give rise to behavior that is very different from the predictions of deterministic rate equation models. Unfortunately, there are few analytic methods for examining the qualitative behavior of stochastic systems. Here we describe such a method that extends deterministic analysis to include leading-order corrections due to the molecular noise. The method allows the steady-state behavior of the stochastic model to be easily computed, facilitates the mapping of stability phase diagrams that include stochastic effects, and reveals how model parameters affect noise susceptibility in a manner not accessible to numerical simulation. By way of illustration we consider two genetic circuits: a bistable positive-feedback loop and a negative-feedback oscillator. We find in the positive feedback circuit that translational activation leads to a far more stable system than transcriptional control. Conversely, in a negative-feedback loop triggered by a positive-feedback switch, the stochasticity of transcriptional control is harnessed to generate reproducible oscillations.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, noncoding RNAs that play an important role in many key biological processes, including development, cell differentiation, the cell cycle and apoptosis, as central post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Recent studies have shown that miRNAs can act as oncogenes and tumor suppressors depending on the context. The present work focuses on the physiological significance of miRNAs and their role in regulating the switching behavior. We illustrate an abstract model of the Myc/E2F/miR-17-92 network presented by Aguda et al. (2008), which is composed of coupling between the E2F/Myc positive feedback loops and the E2F/Myc/miR-17-92 negative feedback loop. By systematically analyzing the network in close association with plausible experimental parameters, we show that, in the presence of miRNAs, the system bistability emerges from the system, with a bistable switch and a one-way switch presented by Aguda et al. instead of a single one-way switch. Moreover, the miRNAs can optimize the switching process. The model produces a diverse array of response-signal behaviors in response to various potential regulating scenarios. The model predicts that this transition exists, one from cell death or the cancerous phenotype directly to cell quiescence, due to the existence of miRNAs. It was also found that the network involving miR-17-92 exhibits high noise sensitivity due to a positive feedback loop and also maintains resistance to noise from a negative feedback loop.
Project description:Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) hold great potential for replacing neurons following injury or disease. The therapeutic and diagnostic potential of ESCs may be hindered by heterogeneity in ESC-derived populations. Drug selection has been used to purify ESC-derived cardiomyocytes and endothelial cells but has not been applied to specific neural lineages. In this study we investigated positive selection of progenitor motor neurons (pMNs) through transgenic expression of the puromycin resistance enzyme, puromycin N-acetyl-transferase (PAC), under the Olig2 promoter. The protein-coding region in one allele of Olig2 was replaced with PAC to generate the P-Olig2 cell line. This cell line provided specific puromycin resistance in cells that express Olig2, while Olig2(-) cells were killed by puromycin. Positive selection significantly enriched populations of Olig2(+) pMNs. Committed motoneurons (MNs) expressing Hb9, a common progeny of pMNs, were also enriched by the end of the selection period. Selected cells remained viable and differentiated into mature cholinergic MNs and oligodendrocyte precursor cells. Drug resistance may provide a scalable and inexpensive method for enriching desired neural cell types for use in research applications.
Project description:Positive feedback plays a key role in the ability of signaling molecules to form highly localized clusters in the membrane or cytosol of cells. Such clustering can occur in the absence of localizing mechanisms such as pre-existing spatial cues, diffusional barriers, or molecular cross-linking. What prevents positive feedback from amplifying inevitable biological noise when an un-clustered "off" state is desired? And, what limits the spread of clusters when an "on" state is desired? Here, we show that a minimal positive feedback circuit provides the general principle for both suppressing and amplifying noise: below a critical density of signaling molecules, clustering switches off; above this threshold, highly localized clusters are recurrently generated. Clustering occurs only in the stochastic regime, suggesting that finite sizes of molecular populations cannot be ignored in signal transduction networks. The emergence of a dominant cluster for finite numbers of molecules is partly a phenomenon of random sampling, analogous to the fixation or loss of neutral mutations in finite populations. We refer to our model as the "neutral drift polarity model." Regulating the density of signaling molecules provides a simple mechanism for a positive feedback circuit to robustly switch between clustered and un-clustered states. The intrinsic ability of positive feedback both to create and suppress clustering is a general mechanism that could operate within diverse biological networks to create dynamic spatial organization.
Project description:Podocytes are kidney cells with specialized morphology that is required for glomerular filtration. Diseases, such as diabetes, or drug exposure that causes disruption of the podocyte foot process morphology results in kidney pathophysiology. Proteomic analysis of glomeruli isolated from rats with puromycin-induced kidney disease and control rats indicated that protein kinase A (PKA), which is activated by adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate (cAMP), is a key regulator of podocyte morphology and function. In podocytes, cAMP signaling activates cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) to enhance expression of the gene encoding a differentiation marker, synaptopodin, a protein that associates with actin and promotes its bundling. We constructed and experimentally verified a ?-adrenergic receptor-driven network with multiple feedback and feedforward motifs that controls CREB activity. To determine how the motifs interacted to regulate gene expression, we mapped multicompartment dynamical models, including information about protein subcellular localization, onto the network topology using Petri net formalisms. These computational analyses indicated that the juxtaposition of multiple feedback and feedforward motifs enabled the prolonged CREB activation necessary for synaptopodin expression and actin bundling. Drug-induced modulation of these motifs in diseased rats led to recovery of normal morphology and physiological function in vivo. Thus, analysis of regulatory motifs using network dynamics can provide insights into pathophysiology that enable predictions for drug intervention strategies to treat kidney disease.
Project description:Diverse biological systems utilize fluctuations ("noise") in gene expression to drive lineage-commitment decisions. However, once a commitment is made, noise becomes detrimental to reliable function, and the mechanisms enabling post-commitment noise suppression are unclear. Here, we find that architectural constraints on noise suppression are overcome to stabilize fate commitment. Using single-molecule and time-lapse imaging, we find that-after a noise-driven event-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) strongly attenuates expression noise through a non-transcriptional negative-feedback circuit. Feedback is established through a serial cascade of post-transcriptional splicing, whereby proteins generated from spliced mRNAs auto-deplete their own precursor unspliced mRNAs. Strikingly, this auto-depletion circuitry minimizes noise to stabilize HIV's commitment decision, and a noise-suppression molecule promotes stabilization. This feedback mechanism for noise suppression suggests a functional role for delayed splicing in other systems and may represent a generalizable architecture of diverse homeostatic signaling circuits.