Frequency domain analysis of noise in simple gene circuits

Chris D. Cox, James M. McCollum, Derek W. Austin, Michael S. Allen, Roy D. Dar, Michael L. Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Recent advances in single cell methods have spurred progress in quantifying and analyzing stochastic fluctuations, or noise, in genetic networks. Many of these studies have focused on identifying the sources of noise and quantifying its magnitude, and at the same time, paying less attention to the frequency content of the noise. We have developed a frequency domain approach to extract the information contained in the frequency content of the noise. In this article we review our work in this area and extend it to explicitly consider sources of extrinsic and intrinsic noise. First we review applications of the frequency domain approach to several simple circuits, including a constitutively expressed gene, a gene regulated by transitions in its operator state, and a negatively autoregulated gene. We then review our recent experimental study, in which time-lapse microscopy was used to measure noise in the expression of green fluorescent protein in individual cells. The results demonstrate how changes in rate constants within the gene circuit are reflected in the spectral content of the noise in a manner consistent with the predictions derived through frequency domain analysis. The experimental results confirm our earlier theoretical prediction that negative autoregulation not only reduces the magnitude of the noise but shifts its content out to higher frequency. Finally, we develop a frequency domain model of gene expression that explicitly accounts for extrinsic noise at the transcriptional and translational levels. We apply the model to interpret a shift in the autocorrelation function of green fluorescent protein induced by perturbations of the translational process as a shift in the frequency spectrum of extrinsic noise and a decrease in its weighting relative to intrinsic noise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number026102
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


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