When the process of cell-fate determination is examined at single-cell resolution, it is often observed that individual cells undergo different fates even when subject to identical conditions. This " noisy" phenotype is usually attributed to the inherent stochasticity of chemical reactions in the cell. Here we demonstrate how the observed single-cell heterogeneity can be explained by a cascade of decisions occurring at the subcellular level. We follow the postinfection decision in bacteriophage lambda at single-virus resolution, and show that a choice between lysis and lysogeny is first made at the level of the individual virus. The decisions by all viruses infecting a single cell are then integrated in a precise (noise-free) way, such that only a unanimous vote by all viruses leads to the establishment of lysogeny. By detecting and integrating over the subcellular " hidden variables," we are able to predict the level of noise measured at the single-cell level.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)