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Characteristics of Transcriptional Activity in Nonlinear Dynamics of Genetic Regulatory Networks

Author(s): Simon Rosenfeld

Journal: Gene Regulation and Systems Biology
ISSN 1177-6250

Volume: 2009;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 159;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Microarray measurements of mRNA abundances is a standard tool for evaluation of transcriptional activity in functional genomics. The methodology underlying these measurements assumes existence of a direct link between transcription levels, that is, gene-specific mRNA copy numbers present in the cell, and transcription rates, that is, the numbers of gene-specific mRNA molecules synthesized per unit of time. In this paper, the question of whether or not such a tight interdependence may exist is examined in the context of nonlinear dynamics of genetic regulatory networks. Using the equations of chemical kinetics, a model has been constructed that is capable of explicitly taking into consideration nonlinear interactions between the genes through the teamwork of transcription factors. Jacobian analysis of stability has shown that steady state equilibrium is impossible in such systems. However, phase space compressibility is found to be negative, thus suggesting that asymptotic stability may exist and assume either the form of limit cycle or of a chaotic attractor. It is argued that in rapidly fluctuating or chaotic systems, direct evaluation of transcription rates through transcrip- tion levels is highly problematic. It is also noted that even if a hypothetical steady state did exist, the knowledge of transcription levels alone would not be sufficient for the evaluation of transcription rates; an additional set of parameters, namely the mRNA decay rates, would be required. An overall conclusion of the work is that the measurements of mRNA abundances are not truly representative of the functionality of genes and structural fidelity of the genetic codes.

Tango Jona
Tangokurs Rapperswil-Jona

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