It is well known that noise is inevitable in gene regulatory networks due to the low-copy numbers of molecules and local environmental fluctuations. The prediction of noise effects is a key issue in ensuring reliable transmission of information. Interlinked positive and negative feedback loops are essential signal transduction motifs in biological networks. Positive feedback loops are generally believed to induce a switch-like behavior, whereas negative feedback loops are thought to suppress noise effects. Here, by using the signal sensitivity (susceptibility) and noise amplification to quantify noise propagation, we analyze an abstract model of the Myc/E2F/MiR-17-92 network that is composed of a coupling between the E2F/Myc positive feedback loop and the E2F/Myc/miR-17-92 negative feedback loop. The role of the feedback loop on noise effects is found to depend on the dynamic properties of the system. When the system is in monostability or bistability with high protein concentrations, noise is consistently suppressed. However, the negative feedback loop reduces this suppression ability (or improves the noise propagation) and enhances signal sensitivity. In the case of excitability, bistability, or monostability, noise is enhanced at low protein concentrations. The negative feedback loop reduces this noise enhancement as well as the signal sensitivity. In all cases, the positive feedback loop acts contrary to the negative feedback loop. We also found that increasing the time scale of the protein module or decreasing the noise autocorrelation time can enhance noise suppression; however, the systems sensitivity remains unchanged. Taken together, our results suggest that the negative/positive feedback mechanisms in coupled feedback loop dynamically buffer noise effects rather than only suppressing or amplifying the noise.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 20-December-2012
Author(s): Zhang H., Chen Y., Chen Y.