Stochastic bistability and bifurcation in a mesoscopic signaling system with autocatalytic kinase

Biophys J. 2010 Jan 6;98(1):1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2009.09.055.


Bistability is a nonlinear phenomenon widely observed in nature including in biochemical reaction networks. Deterministic chemical kinetics studied in the past has shown that bistability occurs in systems with strong (cubic) nonlinearity. For certain mesoscopic, weakly nonlinear (quadratic) biochemical reaction systems in a small volume, however, stochasticity can induce bistability and bifurcation that have no macroscopic counterpart. We report the simplest yet known reactions involving driven phosphorylation-dephosphorylation cycle kinetics with autocatalytic kinase. We show that the noise-induced phenomenon is correlated with free energy dissipation and thus conforms with the open-chemical system theory. A previous reported noise-induced bistability in futile cycles is found to have originated from the kinase synchronization in a bistable system with slow transitions, as reported here.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Computers
  • Enzyme Stability
  • Models, Biological*
  • Models, Chemical*
  • Nonlinear Dynamics
  • Phosphorylation
  • Phosphotransferases / chemistry*
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stochastic Processes


  • Phosphotransferases