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Architecture, Dynamics, and Function of the General Stress Response System in B. subtilis


Young, Jonathan Wan (2012) Architecture, Dynamics, and Function of the General Stress Response System in B. subtilis. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/93MF-Q808.


Cells exhibit diverse and dynamic responses to stress. However, in many cases it remains unclear what the dynamics are, how they are generated, and why they are beneficial to the cell or organism. To investigate these issues we studied the General Stress Response in B. subtilis, a critical, conserved stress signaling pathway, mediated by the alternative sigma factor, σB. First, we find that σB activates with stochastic, frequency modulated pulses in response to energy stress. We explore the mechanism behind this striking response and find that a small, compact circuit facilitates this behavior. Second, we find that σB activates with a single-homogenous pulse of activity exposed to environmental stress, in contrast to energy stress dynamics. We also find that activation is rate-responsive, and show how this property may separate broad and specific regulatory modes. Lastly, we present some preliminary work toward a synthetic sigma factor activation circuit. Combined, these results present a comprehensive study of σB activation and generate a platform by which other dynamic stress response systems can be understood.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:gene expression dynamics, general stress response, sigma B, sigma factors, signaling systems
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Major Option:Biology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Elowitz, Michael B.
Thesis Committee:
  • Sternberg, Paul W. (chair)
  • Phillips, Robert B.
  • Elowitz, Michael B.
  • Fraser, Scott E.
Defense Date:12 April 2012
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05292012-120719001
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7088
Deposited By: Jonathan Young
Deposited On:01 Jun 2012 20:41
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:56

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