Inherent stochasticity precludes hysteresis in gene regulatory networks

M. Pajaro, I. Otero-Muras, C. Vaquez, & A. A. Alonso

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Dec 28, 2018
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Receive Date:  5th December 18

Cell fate determination, the process through which cells commit to differentiated states, has been shown to be mediated by gene regulatory motifs with mutually exclusive expression states. The classical picture for deterministic cell decision making includes bistability and hysteresis. Despite numerous experimental works supporting evidence of hysteresis in gene regulatory networks, such phenomenon may not be compatible with the stochasticity underlying gene regulation dynamics.Here we show how under sufficiently slow dynamics, the dependency of the transient solutions on the initial state of the cells can be misunderstood as hysteresis and, to quantify this phenomenon, we provide an estimate of the convergence rate to the equilibrium. We also introduce the equation of a natural landscape capturing the evolution of the system that, unlike traditional cell fate potential landscapes, is compatible with the notion of coexistence at the microscopic level.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.


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