SERIES INTRODUCTION: The ups and downs of metabolism

New year, new series on the metaRNA blog!

For the upcoming posts on “Metabolic oscillations”, Josi Buerger introduces us to the publications that inspired the creation of this ITN network. The series will focus on the underlying concepts, explain the four main publications stretching from 2010 to 2016, and lay out how the Fellows’ efforts will push this work forward into 2017.


Life isn’t static. It can’t be – in biological systems, stagnation means death.

Even though cells are rules by homeostasis, this continuous fine-tuning of cellular processes is anything but static.

Homeostasis: Self-regulation to maintain internal equilibrium.

For example, the human body strives to maintain 37 °C as its internal temperature via heat-loss (sweating) or heat retention (goose-bumps).

But remember, the cell itself cannot think or make decision like our human minds. Individual cells don’t have a brain that acts as the central decision maker. Some argue that cellular fate is encoded in its DNA and this should be seen as a “brain” of sorts. However, the cell must still be able to respond to external events or internal catastrophes above and beyond the determination of the DNA code.

So how is this possible? What kind of situation requires immediate and total cellular responses? And what does this response look like?

The following four papers have been chosen as the features of our new series to answer these questions:

  1. Bacterial adaptation through distributed sensing of metabolic fluxes
  2. Functioning of a metabolic flux sensor in Escherichia coli
  3. Phenotypic bistability in Escherichia coli’s central carbon metabolism
  4. Autonomous metabolic oscillations robustly gate the early and late cell cycle

Join in as we explore cellular decision-making!


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