It's a noisy business! Genetic regulation at the nanomolar scale

Trends Genet. 1999 Feb;15(2):65-9. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(98)01659-x.


Many molecules that control genetic regulatory circuits act at extremely low intracellular concentrations. Resultant fluctuations (noise) in reaction rates cause large random variation in rates of development, morphology and the instantaneous concentration of each molecular species in each cell. To achieve regulatory reliability in spite of this noise, cells use redundancy in genes as well as redundancy and extensive feedback in regulatory pathways. However, some regulatory mechanisms exploit this noise to randomize outcomes where variability is advantageous.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Eukaryotic Cells / physiology
  • Fungi / physiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Microchemistry*
  • Models, Biological
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Phenotype
  • Random Allocation
  • Stochastic Processes


  • Macromolecular Substances