Engineering stability in gene networks by autoregulation

Nature. 2000 Jun 1;405(6786):590-3. doi: 10.1038/35014651.


The genetic and biochemical networks which underlie such things as homeostasis in metabolism and the developmental programs of living cells, must withstand considerable variations and random perturbations of biochemical parameters. These occur as transient changes in, for example, transcription, translation, and RNA and protein degradation. The intensity and duration of these perturbations differ between cells in a population. The unique state of cells, and thus the diversity in a population, is owing to the different environmental stimuli the individual cells experience and the inherent stochastic nature of biochemical processes (for example, refs 5 and 6). It has been proposed, but not demonstrated, that autoregulatory, negative feedback loops in gene circuits provide stability, thereby limiting the range over which the concentrations of network components fluctuate. Here we have designed and constructed simple gene circuits consisting of a regulator and transcriptional repressor modules in Escherichia coli and we show the gain of stability produced by negative feedback.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Feedback
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Homeostasis*
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • tetracycline resistance-encoding transposon repressor protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins