Basal leakage in oscillation: Coupled transcriptional and translational control using feed-forward loops

Ignasius Joanito, Ching Cher Sanders Yan, Jhih-Wei Chu, Shu Hsing Wu, Chao Ping Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The circadian clock is a complex system that plays many important roles in most organisms. Previously, many mathematical models have been used to sharpen our understanding of the Arabidopsis clock, which brought to light the roles of each transcriptional and post-translational regulations. However, the presence of both regulations, instead of either transcription or post-translation, raised curiosity of whether the combination of these two regulations is important for the clock's system. In this study, we built a series of simplified oscillators with different regulations to study the importance of post-translational regulation (specifically, 26S proteasome degradation) in the clock system. We found that a simple transcriptional-based oscillator can already generate sustained oscillation, but the oscillation can be easily destroyed in the presence of transcriptional leakage. Coupling post-translational control with transcriptional-based oscillator in a feed-forward loop will greatly improve the robustness of the oscillator in the presence of basal leakage. Using these general models, we were able to replicate the increased variability observed in the E3 ligase mutant for both plant and mammalian clocks. With this insight, we also predict a plausible regulator of several E3 ligase genes in the plant's clock. Thus, our results provide insights into and the plausible importance in coupling transcription and post-translation controls in the clock system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1007740
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

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