Entrainment of a Population of Synthetic Genetic Oscillators

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Science  02 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6047, pp. 1315-1319
DOI: 10.1126/science.1205369

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Biological clocks are self-sustained oscillators that adjust their phase to the daily environmental cycles in a process known as entrainment. Molecular dissection and mathematical modeling of biological oscillators have progressed quite far, but quantitative insights on the entrainment of clocks are relatively sparse. We simultaneously tracked the phases of hundreds of synthetic genetic oscillators relative to a common external stimulus to map the entrainment regions predicted by a detailed model of the clock. Synthetic oscillators were frequency-locked in wide intervals of the external period and showed higher-order resonance. Computational simulations indicated that natural oscillators may contain a positive-feedback loop to robustly adapt to environmental cycles.

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