Cell Biology

Modeling Competence

Science's STKE  27 Mar 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 379, pp. tw108
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3792007tw108

Bacteria undergo a well-studied transient differentiation into a state of competence, during which they can take up DNA from the environment. It is a rare example of a developmental system understood sufficiently well to be analyzed in a rigorous quantitative manner. Süel et al. use mathematical models and precise experimental measurements to describe key properties of this developmental system. The frequency and duration of episodes of competence could be independently tuned by simple changes in gene expression, and such variations in gene expression could also give rise to distinct dynamic properties of the system.

G. M. Süel, R. P. Kulkarni, J. Dworkin, J. Garcia-Ojalvo, M. B. Elowitz, Tunability and noise dependence in differentiation dynamics. Science 315, 1716-1719 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]