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Framework for studying cell responses

Aug. 26, 2015, 8:00 AM

Cells continuously respond to complex environmental stimuli, including temperature fluctuations, nutrient availability, signaling molecules and physical forces. It is challenging to study cellular responses to multiple concurrent environmental stimuli.

Andrew Link, Ph.D., and colleagues have developed a conceptual framework to study responses to simultaneous environmental stimuli. They proposed that environmental stimuli are analogous to genes and used existing models for studying gene-gene interactions and epistasis (a type of genetic interaction).

They tested the concept by growing baker’s yeast (S. cerevisiae) under different conditions and analyzing changes in protein abundance using quantitative proteomics. They found that environmental interactions and epistasis play central roles in determining the state of the proteome in response to multiple concurrent stimuli.

The report, published in PLOS ONE, provides a framework for studying cellular responses and could be used to identify the agents driving a range of biological processes in health and disease.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant GM064779) and by the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine IDEAS Program.

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