Analysis of Noise in Quorum Sensing

Chris D. Cox, Gregory D. Peterson, Michael S. Allen, Joseph M. Lancaster, James M. McCollum, Derek Austin, Ling Yan, Gary S. Sayler, Michael L. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Noise may play a pivotal role in gene circuit functionality, as demonstrated for the genetic switch in the bacterial phage A. Like the A switch, bacterial quorum sensing (QS) systems operate within a population and contain a bistable switching element, making it likely that noise plays a functional role in QS circuit operation. Therefore, a detailed analysis of the noise behavior of QS systems is needed. We have developed a set of tools generally applicable to the analysis of gene circuits, with an emphasis on investigations in the frequency domain (FD), that we apply here to the QS system in the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri. We demonstrate that a tight coupling between exact stochastic simulation and FD analysis provides insights into the structure/function relationships in the QS circuit. Furthermore, we argue that a noise analysis is incomplete without consideration of the power spectral densities (PSDs) of the important molecular output signals. As an example we consider reversible reactions in the QS circuit, and show through analysis and exact stochastic simulation that these circuits make significant and dynamic modifications to the noise spectra. In particular, we demonstrate a "whitening" effect, which occurs as the noise is processed through these reversible reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-334
Number of pages18
JournalOMICS A Journal of Integrative Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2003


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