Weitz Group @ Georgia Tech Theoretical Ecology and Quantitative Biology

New paper in PNAS: Small-scale copy number variation can lead to large-scale changes in gene expression

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Earlier this year, the Weitz group proposed a mechanism to explain how bacterial viruses can make collective decisions inside cells. Viruses can perform a form of "quorum sensing" to sense changes in viral genome copy number within multiply infected hosts. The basis of this mechanism is the nonlinear effect of copy number variation on gene expression. In a paper published this week in the Early Edition of PNAS, our group demonstrated that copy number controls expression outcome in a variety of commonly found gene regulatory motifs. The key finding is that the outcome of a gene regulatory network depends on the copy number of genes and component modules, in addition to the topology of the network and environmental effects. From the emergence and evolution of gene duplicates to the behavior of multiply infected cells,our group will continue to investigate how copy number modifies the dynamics of gene regulation.