Using noise to probe and characterize gene circuits

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Stochastic fluctuations (or "noise") in the single-cell populations of molecular species are shaped by the structure and biokinetic rates of the underlying gene circuit. The structure of the noise is summarized by its autocorrelation function. In this article, we introduce the noise regulatory vector as a generalized framework for making inferences concerning the structure and biokinetic rates of a gene circuit from its noise autocorrelation function. Although most previous studies have focused primarily on the magnitude component of the noise (given by the zero-lag autocorrelation function), our approach also considers the correlation component, which encodes additional information concerning the circuit. Theoretical analyses and simulations of various gene circuits show that the noise regulatory vector is characteristic of the composition of the circuit. Although a particular noise regulatory vector does not map uniquely to a single underlying circuit, it does suggest possible candidate circuits, while excluding others, thereby demonstrating the probative value of noise in gene circuit analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10809-10814
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number31
StatePublished - 5 Aug 2008


  • Gene circuit analysis
  • Noise analysis
  • Stochastic gene expression


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