Correlation Resonance Generated by Coupled Enzymatic Processing
W. H. Mather, N. A. Cookson, J. Hasty, L. S. Tsimring and R. J. Williams

A major challenge for systems biology is to deduce the molecular interactions that underlie correlations observed between concentrations of different intracellular molecules. Although direct explanations such as coupled transcription or direct protein-protein interactions are often considered, potential indirect sources of coupling have received much less attention. Here we show how correlations can arise generically from a posttranslational coupling mechanism involving the processing of multiple protein species by a common enzyme. By observing a connection between a stochastic model and a multiclass queue, we obtain a closed form expression for the steady-state distribution of the numbers of molecules of each protein species. Upon deriving explicit analytic expressions for moments and correlations associated with this distribution, we discover a striking phenomenon that we call correlation resonance: for small dilution rate, correlations peak near the balance-point where the total rate of influx of proteins into the system is equal to the maximum processing capacity of the enzyme. Given the limited number of many important catalytic molecules, our results may lead to new insights into the origin of correlated behavior on a global scale.

Published in Biophysical Journal, 99 (2010), 3172-3181.
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Last updated: November 17, 2010