Cooperativity, sensitivity, and noise in biochemical signaling

William Bialek, Sima Setayeshgar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Cooperative interactions in the binding of multiple signaling molecules is a common mechanism for enhancing the sensitivity of biological signaling systems. It is widely assumed this increase in sensitivity of the mean response implies the ability to detect smaller signals. Extending the classic work of Berg and Purcell [Biophys. J. 20, 193 (1977)]BIOJAU0006-3495 on the physical limits of chemoreception, we show that the random arrival of diffusing signaling molecules at receptor sites constitutes a noise source that is not reduced by cooperativity. Cooperativity makes reaching this limit easier, but cannot reduce the limit itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number258101
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number25
StatePublished - Jun 23 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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