Post-Transcriptional Noise Control

Bioessays. 2019 Jul;41(7):e1900044. doi: 10.1002/bies.201900044. Epub 2019 Jun 21.


Recent evidence indicates that transcriptional bursts are intrinsically amplified by messenger RNA cytoplasmic processing to generate large stochastic fluctuations in protein levels. These fluctuations can be exploited by cells to enable probabilistic bet-hedging decisions. But large fluctuations in gene expression can also destabilize cell-fate commitment. Thus, it is unclear if cells temporally switch from high to low noise, and what mechanisms enable this switch. Here, the discovery of a post-transcriptional mechanism that attenuates noise in HIV is reviewed. Early in its life cycle, HIV amplifies transcriptional fluctuations to probabilistically select alternate fates, whereas at late times, HIV utilizes a post-transcriptional feedback mechanism to commit to a specific fate. Reanalyzing various reported post-transcriptional negative feedback architectures reveals that they attenuate noise more efficiently than classic transcriptional autorepression, leading to the derivation of an assay to detect post-transcriptional motifs. It is hypothesized that coupling transcriptional and post-transcriptional autoregulation enables efficient temporal noise control to benefit developmental bet-hedging decisions.

Keywords: autoregulation; fate selection; negative feedback; noise control; post-transcriptional; splicing; stochastic noise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Feedback, Physiological / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger