Review

Functional Roles of Pulsing in Genetic Circuits

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6163, pp. 1193-1200
DOI: 10.1126/science.1239999

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution

Abstract

A fundamental problem in biology is to understand how genetic circuits implement core cellular functions. Time-lapse microscopy techniques are beginning to provide a direct view of circuit dynamics in individual living cells. Unexpectedly, we are discovering that key transcription and regulatory factors pulse on and off repeatedly, and often stochastically, even when cells are maintained in constant conditions. This type of spontaneous dynamic behavior is pervasive, appearing in diverse cell types from microbes to mammalian cells. Here, we review recent work showing how pulsing is generated and controlled by underlying regulatory circuits and how it provides critical capabilities to cells in stress response, signaling, and development. A major theme is the ability of pulsing to enable time-based regulation analogous to strategies used in engineered systems. Thus, pulsatile dynamics is emerging as a central, and still largely unexplored, layer of temporal organization in the cell.

View Full Text