Quantifying multimodality in gene regulatory networks

15 May 2014
Ramon Grima
Several experimental studies have shown that the abundance distributions of proteins in a population of isogenic cells may display multiple distinct maxima. Each of these maxima may be associated with a subpopulation of a particular phenotype, the quantification of which is important for understanding cellular decision-making. I will present a novel methodology which allows us to quantify multi-modal gene expression distributions and single cell power spectra in gene regulatory networks. The method is based on an extension of the linear noise approximation; in particular we rigorously show that, in the limit of slow promoter dynamics, these distributions can be systematically approximated as a mixture of Gaussian components. The resulting closed-form approximation provides a practical tool for studying complex nonlinear gene regulatory networks that have thus far been amenable only to stochastic simulation. I will demonstrate the applicability of our approach to several examples and discuss some new dynamical characteristics e.g., how the interplay of transcriptional and translational regulation can be exploited to control the multimodality of gene expression distributions in two-promoter networks and how genetic oscillators can display concerted noise-induced bimodality and noise-induced oscillations.
  • Industrial and Applied Mathematics Seminar