Interplay of bistable kinetics of gene expression during cellular growth
Journal article, 2009
In cells, the bistable kinetics of gene expression can be observed on the level of (i) one gene with positive feedback between protein and mRNA production, (ii) two genes with negative mutual feedback between protein and mRNA production, or (iii) in more complex cases. We analyse the interplay of two genes of type (ii) governed by a gene of type (i) during cellular growth. In particular, using kinetic Monte Carlo simulations, we show that in the case where gene 1, operating in the bistable regime, regulates mutually inhibiting genes 2 and 3, also operating in the bistable regime, the latter genes may eventually be trapped either to the state with high transcriptional activity of gene 2 and low activity of gene 3 or to the state with high transcriptional activity of gene 3 and low activity of gene 2. The probability to get to one of these states depends on the values of the model parameters. If genes 2 and 3 are kinetically equivalent, the probability is equal to 0.5. Thus, our model illustrates how different intracellular states can be chosen at random with predetermined probabilities. This type of kinetics of gene expression may be behind complex processes occurring in cells, e.g., behind the choice of the fate by stem cells.