A Caltech Library Service

Allosteric proteins as logarithmic sensors

Olsman, Noah and Goentoro, Lea (2016) Allosteric proteins as logarithmic sensors. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (30). E4423-E4430. ISSN 0027-8424. PMCID PMC4968753. doi:10.1073/pnas.1601791113.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Supplemental Material
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Many sensory systems, from vision and hearing in animals to signal transduction in cells, respond to fold changes in signal relative to background. Responding to fold change requires that the system senses signal on a logarithmic scale, responding identically to a change in signal level from 1 to 3, or from 10 to 30. It is an ongoing search in the field to understand the ways in which a logarithmic sensor can be implemented at the molecular level. In this work, we present evidence that logarithmic sensing can be implemented with a single protein, by means of allosteric regulation. Specifically, we find that mathematical models show that allosteric proteins can respond to stimuli on a logarithmic scale. Next, we present evidence from measurements in the literature that some allosteric proteins do operate in a parameter regime that permits logarithmic sensing. Finally, we present examples suggesting that allosteric proteins are indeed used in this capacity: allosteric proteins play a prominent role in systems where fold-change detection has been proposed. This finding suggests a role as logarithmic sensors for the many allosteric proteins across diverse biological processes.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Information CentralArticle
Olsman, Noah0000-0002-4351-3880
Goentoro, Lea0000-0002-3904-0195
Additional Information:© 2016 National Academy of Sciences. Freely available online through the PNAS open access option. Edited by Taekjip Ha, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved May 16, 2016 (received for review February 1, 2016). Published online before print July 7, 2016. We thank Kibeom Kim, Christopher Frick, Harry Nunns, Michael Abrams, Ty Basinger, Enoch Yeung, Tal Einav, Nicholas Frankel, Rob Phillips, and Henry Lester for discussions and suggestions on the manuscript. We also thank Meritxell Canals and Arthur Christopoulos for sharing their raw experimental data on allostery in GPCRs. This work was supported by the Benjamin M. Rosen Fellowship (N.O.), James S. McDonnell Scholar Award in Complex Systems 220020365 (to L.G.), and NSF CAREER Award NSF.145863 (to L.G.). Author contributions: N.O. and L.G. designed research; N.O. performed research; N.O. analyzed data; and N.O. and L.G. wrote the paper. The authors declare no conflict of interest. This article is a PNAS Direct Submission. This article contains supporting information online at
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Benjamin M. Rosen FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
James S. McDonnell Foundation220020365
Subject Keywords:allosteric regulation; fold-change detection; logarithmic sensing
Issue or Number:30
PubMed Central ID:PMC4968753
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160708-072507691
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Noah Olsman and Lea Goentoro Allosteric proteins as logarithmic sensors PNAS 2016 113 (30) E4423-E4430; published ahead of print July 7, 2016, doi:10.1073/pnas.1601791113
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:68903
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Jul 2016 18:22
Last Modified:26 Apr 2022 17:11

Repository Staff Only: item control page