Robustness analysis of cellular systems using the genetic tug-of-war method

Mol Biosyst. 2012 Oct;8(10):2513-22. doi: 10.1039/c2mb25100k.


Robustness is one of the principles of design inherent to biological systems. Cellular robustness can be measured as limits of intracellular parameters such as gene expression levels. We have recently developed an experimental approach coined as genetic Tug-Of-War (gTOW), which we used to perform robustness analysis in yeast. Using gTOW, we were able to measure the upper limit of expression of gene targets. In this review, we first elaborate on how the gTOW method compares to current mathematical simulation models prevalently used in the determination of robustness. We then explain the experimental principles underlying gTOW and its associated tools, and we provide concrete examples of robustness analysis using gTOW, i.e. cell cycle and HOG pathway gene expression analysis. Finally, we list a series of Q&As related to the experimental utilization of gTOW and we describe the potential impact of gTOW and its relevance to the understanding of biological systems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Cycle / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Computer Simulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Fungal*
  • Genes, Fungal*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Plasmids
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / genetics*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Systems Biology / methods*
  • Transfection


  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins