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Certain types of cellular differentiation are probabilistic and transient. In such systems individual cells can switch to an alternative state and, after some time, switch back again. In Bacillus subtilis, competence is an example of such a transiently differentiated state associated with the capability for DNA uptake from the environment. Individual genes(More)
The dynamic process of differentiation depends on the architecture, quantitative parameters, and noise of underlying genetic circuits. However, it remains unclear how these elements combine to control cellular behavior. We analyzed the probabilistic and transient differentiation of Bacillus subtilis cells into the state of competence. A few key parameters(More)
A fundamental goal in cellular signaling is to understand allosteric communication, the process by which signals originating at one site in a protein propagate reliably to affect distant functional sites. The general principles of protein structure that underlie this process remain unknown. Here, we describe a sequence-based statistical method for(More)
Gene regulatory circuits with different architectures (patterns of regulatory interactions) can generate similar dynamics. This raises the question of why a particular circuit architecture is selected to implement a given cellular process. To investigate this problem, we compared the Bacillus subtilis circuit that regulates differentiation into the(More)
Genetic circuits that regulate distinct cellular processes can differ in their wiring pattern of interactions (architecture) and susceptibility to stochastic fluctuations (noise). Whether the link between circuit architecture and noise is of biological importance remains, however, poorly understood. To investigate this problem, we performed a computational(More)
Multipotent differentiation, where cells adopt one of several possible fates, occurs in diverse systems ranging from bacteria to mammals. This decision-making process is driven by multiple differentiation programs that operate simultaneously in the cell. How these programs interact to govern cell fate choice is poorly understood. To investigate this issue,(More)
Stochastic fluctuations affect the dynamics of biological systems. Typically, such noise causes perturbations that can permit genetic circuits to escape stable states, triggering, for example, phenotypic switching. In contrast, studies have shown that noise can surprisingly also generate new states, which exist solely in the presence of fluctuations. In(More)
Cells must make reliable decisions under fluctuating extracellular conditions, but also be flexible enough to adapt to such changes. How cells reconcile these seemingly contradictory requirements through the dynamics of cellular decision-making is poorly understood. To study this issue we quantitatively measured gene expression and protein localization in(More)
The study of bacterial ion channels has provided fundamental insights into the structural basis of neuronal signalling; however, the native role of ion channels in bacteria has remained elusive. Here we show that ion channels conduct long-range electrical signals within bacterial biofilm communities through spatially propagating waves of potassium. These(More)