Using movies to analyse gene circuit dynamics in single cells
Many bacterial systems rely on dynamic genetic circuits to control crucial biological processes. A major goal of systems biology is to understand these behaviours in terms of individual genes and their interactions. However, traditional techniques based on population averages 'wash out' crucial dynamics that are either unsynchronized between cells or are driven by fluctuations, or 'noise', in cellular components. Recently, the combination of time-lapse microscopy, quantitative image analysis and fluorescent protein reporters has enabled direct observation of multiple cellular components over time in individual cells. In conjunction with mathematical modelling, these techniques are now providing powerful insights into genetic circuit behaviour in diverse microbial systems.
Additional Information© 2009 Nature Publishing Group. We thank A. Eldar, J. Young, L. Cai, C. Dalal and all members of the Elowitz groups for their feedback and suggestions. J.L. was supported by a Human Frontiers Fellowship. This work was supported by US National Institutes of Health grants R01GM079771 and P50 GM068763, National Science Foundation CAREER Award 0644463 and the Packard Foundation.
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