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Science 343 (6171): 1242782-

Copyright © 2014 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Secreting and Sensing the Same Molecule Allows Cells to Achieve Versatile Social Behaviors

Hyun Youk1,2, and Wendell A. Lim1,2,3,*

Abstract: Cells that secrete and sense the same signaling molecule are ubiquitous. To uncover the functional capabilities of the core "secrete-and-sense" circuit motif shared by these cells, we engineered yeast to secrete and sense the mating pheromone. Perturbing each circuit element revealed parameters that control the degree to which the cell communicated with itself versus with its neighbors. This tunable interplay of self-communication and neighbor communication enables cells to span a diverse repertoire of cellular behaviors. These include a cell being asocial by responding only to itself and social through quorum sensing, and an isogenic population of cells splitting into social and asocial subpopulations. A mathematical model explained these behaviors. The versatility of the secrete-and-sense circuit motif may explain its recurrence across species.

1 Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
2 Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.
3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94158, USA.

* Corresponding author. E-mail: lim{at}cmp.ucsf.edu


THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN CITED BY OTHER ARTICLES:
Cells Listen to Their Inner Voice.
A. J. Lee and L. You (2014)
Science 343, 624-625
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