Biophysics Seminar: Tamar Friedlander, IST Austria, “Intrinsic limits to gene regulation by global crosstalk”

Event time: 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 1:30pm to 2:30pm
Sloane Physics Laboratory (SPL), 52 See map
217 Prospect St.
New Haven, CT 06511
(Location is wheelchair accessible)
Event description: 

Gene activity is mediated by the specificity of binding interactions between special proteins, called transcription factors, and short regulatory sequences on the DNA, where different protein species preferentially bind different DNA targets. Limited interaction specificity may lead to crosstalk: a regulatory state in which a gene is either incorrectly activated due to spurious interactions or remains erroneously inactive. Since each protein can potentially interact with numerous DNA targets, crosstalk in inherently a global problem, yet has previously not been studied as such. I construct a theoretical framework to analyze the effects of global crosstalk on gene regulation, using statistical mechanics. I find that crosstalk in regulatory interactions puts fundamental limits on the reliability of gene regulation that are not easily mitigated by tuning proteins concentrations or by complex regulatory schemes proposed in the literature. My results suggest that crosstalk imposes a previously unexplored global constraint on the functioning and evolution of regulatory networks, which is qualitatively distinct from the known constraints that act at the level of individual gene regulatory elements. I discuss this problem in the broader context of combinatorial explosion of configurations in self-assembled systems.