5 years ago

A Tug-of-War Mechanism for Pattern Formation in a Genetic Network

A Tug-of-War Mechanism for Pattern Formation in a Genetic Network
Murat Arcak, Marcella M. Gomez
Synthesizing spatial patterns with genetic networks is an ongoing challenge in synthetic biology. A successful demonstration of pattern formation would imply a better understanding of systems in the natural world and advance applications in synthetic biology. In developmental systems, transient patterning may suffice in order to imprint instructions for long-term development. In this paper we show that transient but persistent patterns can emerge from a realizable synthetic gene network based on a toggle switch. We show that a bistable system incorporating diffusible molecules can generate patterns that resemble Turing patterns but are distinctly different in the underlying mechanism: diffusion of mutually inhibiting molecules creates a prolonged “tug-of-war” between patches of cells at opposing bistable states. The patterns are transient but longer wavelength patterns persist for extended periods of time. Analysis of a representative small scale model implies the eigenvalues of the persistent modes are just above the threshold of stability. The results are verified through simulation of biologically relevant models.

Publisher URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acssynbio.7b00077

DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.7b00077

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