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Science 304 (5678): 1811-1814

Copyright © 2004 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Control of Stochasticity in Eukaryotic Gene Expression

Jonathan M. Raser, and Erin K. O'Shea*

Abstract: Noise, or random fluctuations, in gene expression may produce variability in cellular behavior. To measure the noise intrinsic to eukaryotic gene expression, we quantified the differences in expression of two alleles in a diploid cell. We found that such noise is gene-specific and not dependent on the regulatory pathway or absolute rate of expression. We propose a model in which the balance between promoter activation and transcription influences the variability in messenger RNA levels. To confirm the predictions of our model, we identified both cis- and trans-acting mutations that alter the noise of gene expression. These mutations suggest that noise is an evolvable trait that can be optimized to balance fidelity and diversity in eukaryotic gene expression.

Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California–San Francisco (UCSF), 600 16th Street, Room S472D, San Francisco, CA 94143–2240, USA.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: oshea{at}

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