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Size-dependence of switching and stable behavior in biochemical systems

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Xiaodong Cheng.

Biochemical reactions occur in cellular compartments with varying volumes where the number of molecules can have a large range. This raises the question of how such systems can operate reliably throughout this range. In particular, it is not well understood how small systems, where the randomness of reactions dominates and any change in the number of molecules has a larger effect, can reliably control their volume.

In this talk, I will introduce a conceptual biochemical system that controls its own size in response to external input. This system describes the time evolution of two mutually inhibitory species. It acts like a switch when it is small, realizing growth and shrinkage, and gradually becomes stable as it gets larger, preventing excessive growth. I will discuss why such a system may arise and be functionally and strategically beneficial for biological systems. I will also talk about other systems with multiple species and mixed connections (inhibitory and excitatory) that have similar behaviours.

This talk is part of the CUED Control Group Seminars series.

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