Exponential sensitivity of noise-driven switching in genetic networks

Pankaj Mehta, Ranjan Mukhopadhyay, Ned S. Wingreen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


There is increasing experimental evidence that cells can utilize biochemical noise to switch probabilistically between distinct gene-expression states. In this paper, we demonstrate that such noise-driven switching is dominated by tails of probability distributions and is therefore exponentially sensitive to changes in physiological parameters such as transcription and translation rates. Exponential sensitivity limits the robustness of noise-driven switching, suggesting cells may use other mechanisms in order to switch reliably. We discuss our results in the context of competence in the bacterium Bacillus subtilis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number026005
JournalPhysical Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biophysics
  • Structural Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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