Extracellular noise-induced stochastic synchronization in heterogeneous quorum sensing network

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Quorum sensing is a bacterial mechanism used to synchronize the coordinated response of a microbial population. Because quorum sensing in Gram-negative bacteria depends on release and detection of a diffusible signaling molecule (autoinducer) among a multicellular group, it is considered a simple form of cell-cell communication for the purposes of mathematical analysis. Stochastic equation systems have provided a common approach to model biochemical or biophysical processes. Recently, the effect of noise to synchronize a specific homogeneous quorum sensing network was successfully modeled using a stochastic equation system with fixed parameters. The question remains of how to model quorum sensing networks in a general setting. To address this question, we first set a stochastic equation system as a general model for a heterogeneous quorum sensing network. Then, using two relevant biophysical characteristics of Gram-negative bacteria (the permeability of the cell membrane to the autoinducer and the symmetry of autoinducer diffusion) we construct the solution of the stochastic equation system at an abstract level. The solution indicates that stable synchronization of a quorum sensing network is robustly induced by an environment with a heterogenous distribution of extracellular and intracellular noise. The synchronization is independent of the initial state of the system and is solely the result of the connectivity of the cell network established through the effects of extracellular noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)726-736
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 21 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


  • Quorum sensing network
  • Stochastic equation system
  • Stochastic process with independent increments

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