A long held bias is that gene expression is immune to random fluctuations in copy numbers of gene products, because most genes are expressed very abundantly, producing tens of thousands of protein molecules when they are turned on. However, recent studies by graduate student Ritika Giri on Drosophila neuro-epithelial patterning show the importance of gene expression stochasticity in influencing cellular and tissue-level behavior. Too much stochasticity leads to disordered cellular patterning. In contrast, very low stochasticity leads to a developmental delay in organizing the tissue into arrays of neuronal and epithelial cells. However, when the levels of stochastic fluctuation are just right, the developing tissue is able to make a rapid yet accurate cell-fate transit. This suggests that gene expression stochasticity might be a critical developmental parameter after all.
Giri was award second place for best poster at the 2019 Gordon Research Conference on Stochastic Physics in Biology for her poster titled, “Gene expression stochasticity is optimized to drive rapid pattern resolution without disorder in a self-organized system.”
Giri’s research is part of a larger collaboration between the NSF-Simons Center for Quantitative Biology, Northwestern University, the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, and the Institute of Genetics at Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
Gene expression stochasticity is optimized to drive rapid pattern resolution without disorder in a self-organized system
Ritika Giri1,2, Dimitrios K Papadopoulos3,4, Diana Posadas1, Hemanth K Potluri1, Pavel Tomancak3, Madhav Mani1,2,5 and Richard W Carthew1,2,6
1 Department of Molecular Biosciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA 2 NSF-Simons Center for Quantitative Biology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA 3 Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany 4 MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, University of Edinburgh, UK 5 Department of Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA 6 Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA