Interlinked mutual inhibitory positive feedbacks induce robust cellular memory effects

FEBS Lett. 2007 Oct 16;581(25):4899-904. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2007.09.020. Epub 2007 Sep 19.


Mutual inhibitory positive feedback (MIPF), or double-negative feedback, is a key regulatory motif of cellular memory with the capability of maintaining switched states for transient stimuli. Such MIPFs are found in various biological systems where they are interlinked in many cases despite a single MIPF can still realize such a memory effect. An intriguing question then arises about the advantage of interlinking MIPFs instead of exploiting an isolated single MIPF to realize the memory effect. We have investigated the advantages of interlinked MIPF systems through mathematical modeling and computer simulations. Our results revealed that interlinking MIPFs expands the parameter range of achieving the memory effect, or the memory region, thereby making the system more robust to parameter perturbations. Moreover, the minimal duration and amplitude of an external stimulus required for off-to-on state transition are increased and, as a result, external noises can more effectively be filtered out. Hence, interlinked MIPF systems can realize more robust cellular memories with respect to both parameter perturbations and external noises. Our study suggests that interlinked MIPF systems might be an evolutionary consequence acquired for a more reliable memory effect by enhancing robustness against noisy cellular environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution
  • Computer Simulation
  • Feedback, Physiological*
  • Models, Biological*