Limitations and trade-offs in gene expression due to competition for shared cellular resources

Andras Gyorgy, Domitilla Del Vecchio

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Gene circuits share transcriptional and translational resources in the cell. The fact that these common resources are available only in limited amounts leads to unexpected couplings in protein expressions. As a result, our predictive ability of describing the behavior of gene circuits is limited. In this paper, we consider the simultaneous expression of proteins and describe the coupling among protein concentrations due to competition for RNA polymerase and ribosomes. In particular, we identify the limitations and trade-offs in gene expression by characterizing the attainable combinations of protein concentrations. We further present two application examples of our results: we show that even in the absence of regulatory linkages, genes can seemingly behave as repressors, and surprisingly, as activators to each other, purely due to the limited availability of shared cellular resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7040238
Pages (from-to)5431-5436
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control
Issue numberFebruary
StatePublished - 2014
Event2014 53rd IEEE Annual Conference on Decision and Control, CDC 2014 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: Dec 15 2014Dec 17 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Control and Optimization


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