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Optimal Census by Quorum Sensing

Author(s): Taillefumier, Thibaud; Wingreen, Ned

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Abstract: Quorum sensing is the regulation of gene expression in response to changes in cell density. To measure their cell density, bacterial populations produce and detect diffusible molecules called autoinducers. Individual bacteria internally represent the external concentration of autoinducers via the level of monitor proteins. In turn, these monitor proteins typically regulate both their own production and the production of autoinducers, thereby establishing internal and external feedbacks. Here, we ask whether feedbacks can increase the information available to cells about their local density. We quantify available information as the mutual information between the abundance of a monitor protein and the local cell density for biologically relevant models of quorum sensing. Using variational methods, we demonstrate that feedbacks can increase information transmission, allowing bacteria to resolve up to two additional ranges of cell density when compared with bistable quorum-sensing systems. Our analysis is relevant to multi-agent systems that track an external driver implicitly via an endogenously generated signal.
Publication Date: 12-May-2015
Electronic Publication Date: 12-May-2015
Citation: Taillefumier, Thibaud, Wingreen, Ned S. (2015). Optimal Census by Quorum Sensing. PLOS Computational Biology, 11 (5), e1004238 - e1004238. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004238
DOI: doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004238
EISSN: 1553-7358
Pages: e1004238 - e1004238
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: PLOS Computational Biology
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.

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