Living with noisy genes: how cells function reliably with inherent variability in gene expression

Annu Rev Biophys Biomol Struct. 2007;36:413-34. doi: 10.1146/annurev.biophys.36.040306.132705.


Within a population of genetically identical cells there can be significant variation, or noise, in gene expression. Yet even with this inherent variability, cells function reliably. This review focuses on our understanding of noise at the level of both single genes and genetic regulatory networks, emphasizing comparisons between theoretical models and experimental results whenever possible. To highlight the importance of noise, we particularly emphasize examples in which a stochastic description of gene expression leads to a qualitatively different outcome than a deterministic one.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysics / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Models, Biological
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Oscillometry
  • Proteins / chemistry
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Proteins
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins