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A robust and flexible genetic pulse generator

par Marc LEFRANC - publié le , mis à jour le

Living cells continuously need to exchange information between the molecular interaction networks that underlie biological functions. An ever increasing number of studies show that cellular communication is often achieved through oscillating behavior, for example using a periodic sequence of protein concentration pulses, with the interpulse time interval being an important biological information determining cellular response.

The researchers from the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the KU Leuven and of PhLAM laboratory have studied the dynamics of a minimal genetic module, the HAL (heterodimer autorepression loop). In this module, a protein A represses the gene which governs its synthesis while binding simultaneously to a protein B. Under some conditions, this circuit generates an alternation of pulses of A and of B. Researchers have shown that remarkably, pulses of protein A are very robust while the time interval between them can be flexibly adjusted. These properties make this circuit very interesting in the context of cellular signaling.

Voir en ligne : Article on the Physical Review Letters web site