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Stochastic signal encoding strategies in cells

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How do cells respond to environmental signals? Until recently, this fundamental question in biology seemed solved. Gene regulation circuits, whose structures resemble electrical circuits (e.g. feedback loops), appeared to regulate behavior in a deterministic fashion. However, gene circuits exhibit significant fluctuations, (‘noise’), in their components. It now appears that this noise can be functional, enabling alternative regulatory strategies. However, it remains unclear how genetic circuits use noise to control cellular behaviors. We have used a combination of time-lapse microscopy, mathematical modeling, and synthetic biology techniques to understand how the regulator of general stress response in B. subtilis, controls its targets using a noise-dependent pulse frequency modulation system.

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