Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar
Cells live in uncertain, dynamic environments and have many mechanisms for sensing and responding to changes in their surroundings. However, sudden fluctuations in the environment can be catastrophic if a population relies solely on sensory responses, which have a delay associated with them. Cells can reconcile this by using a stochastic approach, creating phenotypic diversity within an isogenic population to hedge against environmental uncertainty. Using a combination of time-lapse microscopy experiments and stochastic modeling I will show that cells can use feedback to generate dynamics and noise in expression of a key regulatory protein, providing transient antibiotic resistance at the single-cell level. Further, I will discuss how noise in an upstream regulator can propagate to downstream genes to orchestrate a coordinated response to environmental stresses.