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Homeostasis of protein and mRNA concentrations in growing cells

By Jie Lin, Ariel Amir

Posted 29 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/255950 (published DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06714-z)

Many experiments show that the numbers of mRNA and protein are proportional to the cell volume in growing cells. However, models of stochastic gene expression often assume constant transcription rate per gene and constant translation rate per mRNA, which are incompatible with these experiments. Here, we construct a minimal gene expression model to fill this gap. Assuming ribosomes and RNA polymerases are limiting in gene expression, we find that (1) because the ribosomes translate all proteins, the concentrations of proteins and mRNAs are regulated in an exponentially growing cell volume; (2) the competition between genes for the RNA polymerases makes the transcription rate independent of the genome number. Furthermore, by extending the model to situations in which DNA (mRNA) can be saturated by RNA polymerases (ribosomes) and becomes limiting, we predict a transition from exponential to linear growth of cell volume as the protein-to-DNA ratio increases.

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