Structure and function of negative feedback loops at the interface of genetic and metabolic networks
The molecular network in an organism consists of transcription/translation regulation, protein-protein interactions/modifications and a metabolic network, together forming a system that allows the cell to respond sensibly to the multiple signal molecules that exist in its environment. A key part of this overall system of molecular regulation is therefore the interface between the genetic and the metabolic network. A motif that occurs very often at this interface is a negative feedback loop used to regulate the level of the signal molecules. In this work we use mathematical models to investigate the steady state and dynamical behaviour of different negative feedback loops. We show, in particular, that feedback loops where the signal molecule does not cause the dissociation of the transcription factor from the DNA respond faster than loops where the molecule acts by sequestering transcription factors off the DNA. We use three examples, the bet, mer and lac systems in E. coli, to illustrate the behaviour of such feedback loops.