Population averaging due to paracrine communication can arbitrarily reduce cellular response variability. Yet, variability is ubiquitously observed, suggesting limits to paracrine averaging. It remains unclear whether and how biological systems may be affected by such limits of paracrine signaling. To address this question, we quantify the signal and noise of Ca2+ and ERK spatial gradients in response to an in vitro wound within a novel microfluidics-based device. We find that while paracrine communication reduces gradient noise, it also reduces the gradient magnitude. Accordingly we predict the existence of a maximum gradient signal to noise ratio. Direct in vitro measurement of paracrine communication verifies these predictions and reveals that cells utilize optimal levels of paracrine signaling to maximize the accuracy of gradient-based positional information. Our results demonstrate the limits of population averaging and show the inherent tradeoff in utilizing paracrine communication to regulate cellular response fidelity.
- Sarah A Teichmann, EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute & Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, United Kingdom
© 2015, Handly et al.
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Induced differentiation is one of the most experience- and skill-dependent experimental processes in regenerative medicine, and establishing optimal conditions often takes years. We developed a robotic AI system with a batch Bayesian optimization algorithm that autonomously induces the differentiation of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelial (iPSC-RPE) cells. From 200 million possible parameter combinations, the system performed cell culture in 143 different conditions in 111 days, resulting in 88% better iPSC-RPE production than that obtained by the pre-optimized culture in terms of the pigmentation scores. Our work demonstrates that the use of autonomous robotic AI systems drastically accelerates systematic and unbiased exploration of experimental search space, suggesting immense use in medicine and research.
Splicing is highly regulated and is modulated by numerous factors. Quantitative predictions for how a mutation will affect precursor mRNA (pre-mRNA) structure and downstream function are particularly challenging. Here, we use a novel chemical probing strategy to visualize endogenous precursor and mature MAPT mRNA structures in cells. We used these data to estimate Boltzmann suboptimal structural ensembles, which were then analyzed to predict consequences of mutations on pre-mRNA structure. Further analysis of recent cryo-EM structures of the spliceosome at different stages of the splicing cycle revealed that the footprint of the Bact complex with pre-mRNA best predicted alternative splicing outcomes for exon 10 inclusion of the alternatively spliced MAPT gene, achieving 74% accuracy. We further developed a β-regression weighting framework that incorporates splice site strength, RNA structure, and exonic/intronic splicing regulatory elements capable of predicting, with 90% accuracy, the effects of 47 known and 6 newly discovered mutations on inclusion of exon 10 of MAPT. This combined experimental and computational framework represents a path forward for accurate prediction of splicing-related disease-causing variants.