Section: New Results
Analysis of Interlocked Positive Feedback Loops
Participants : François Fages, Sylvain Soliman.
The two element mutual activation and inhibitory positive feedback loops are a common motifs that occur in many biological systems in both isolated and interlocked form, as for example,in the cell division cycle and thymus differentiation in eukaryotes.
In , the properties of three element interlocked positive feedback loops that embeds both mutual activation and inhibition are studied indepth for their bistable properties by performing bifurcation and stochastic analysis. Codimension one and two bifurcations reveal important properties like robustness to parameter variations and adaptability under various conditions by its ability to fine tune the threshold to a wide range of values and to maintain a wide bistable regime. Furthermore, we show that in the interlocked circuit, mutual inhibition controls the decision to switch from OFF to ON state, while mutual activation enforces the decision. This view is supported through a concrete biological example Candida albicans, a human fungal pathogen that can exist in two distinctive cell types: one in the default white state and the other in an opaque form. Stochastic switching between these two forms takes place due to the epigenetic alternation induced by the transcriptional regulators in the circuit, albeit without any rearrangement of the nuclear chromosomes. The transcriptional regulators constitute interlocked mutualactivation and inhibition feedback circuits that provide adaptable threshold and wide bistable regime. These positive feedback loops are shown to be responsible for robust noise induced transitions without chattering, persistence of particular phenotypes for many generations and selective exhibition of onep articular form of phenotype when mutated. Finally, we propose for synthetic biology constructs touse interlocked positive feedback loops instead of two element positive feedback loops because they are better controlled than isolated mutual activation and mutual inhibition feedback circuits.