Informal Statistical Physics Science Seminar

Tue, Mar 13, 2018 1:15 pm - 2:15 pm
IPST Bldg. 085, 1116 Conference Room


Speaker: Professor Michael Hinczewski, Case Western Reserve University

Title: Professor Michael Hinczewski, Case Western Reserve University

Abstract: Biological cells have an elaborate machinery for probing their external environment.  They gather information about the many small molecules diffusing around them, whether nutrients, or hormones, or toxic agents.  This information is conveyed from receptors on the surface of the cell to the interior by a multitude of protein enzymes, catalyzing reactions that add or remove chemical tags from other proteins.  These tags are the basic units of biological signaling, analogous to the zeros and ones in which a digital message is encoded in engineered communication systems.  But biological circuits are extremely error-prone, distorting the signal through the stochastic nature of protein interactions under constant thermal agitation.  So the cell expends enormous amounts of energy on error-correction mechanisms, maintaining the fidelity of the signal.  My talk explores a general class of biochemical signaling networks (push-pull kinase-phosphatase loops) across the entire biological parameter space, taking advantage of the massive growth in bioinformatic databases.  We find an intricate three-way cost-benefit relationship between signaling fidelity, speed and energetic resources, along with an analytical criterion for optimality that can be directly applied to experimental data.

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