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Understanding the Variability of Growth in Single Cells: From Bacteria to Mammalian Cells

Speaker: Nathalie Balaban, The Racah Institute for Physics
Series: CBE Departmental Seminars
Location: Elgin Room (E-Quad A224)
Date/Time: Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Noise analysis in biological systems has greatly increased our understanding of the underlying cellular processes. Noise in the cell division process is often assumed to be responsible for variability in cell cycle durations, and to underlie heterogeneous responses of bacteria to antibiotics, as well as of cancer cells to drugs. We present a simple genetic module, known as a toxin-antitoxin motif, which exploits noise to generate a variability of growth in bacterial populations. More generally, we ask whether we can differentiate between stochastic and deterministic control of cell division variability. Using tools from non linear dynamics analysis, we show that the variability in cell-cycle duration in mammalian cells, which at first glance seems dominated by noise, is in fact controlled by a deterministic factor.