Fine-tuning of noise in gene expression with nucleosome remodeling

Melina R. Megaridis, Yiyang Lu, Erin N. Tevonian, Kendall M. Junger, Jennifer M. Moy, Kathrin Bohn-Wippert, Roy D. Dar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Engineering stochastic fluctuations of gene expression (or "noise") is integral to precisely bias cellular-fate decisions and statistical phenotypes in both single-cell and multi-cellular systems. Epigenetic regulation has been shown to constitute a large source of noise, and thus, engineering stochasticity is deeply intertwined with epigenetics. Here, utilizing chromatin remodeling, we report that Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CA) and Pyrimethamine (PYR), two inhibitors of BAF250a, a subunit of the Brahma-associated factor (BAF) nucleosome remodeling complex, enable differential and tunable control of noise in transcription and translation from the human immunodeficiency virus long terminal repeat promoter in a dose and time-dependent manner. CA conserves noise levels while increasing mean abundance, resulting in direct tuning of the transcriptional burst size, while PYR strictly increases transcriptional initiation frequency while conserving a constant transcriptional burst size. Time-dependent treatment with CA reveals non-continuous tuning with noise oscillating at a constant mean abundance at early time points and the burst size increasing for treatments after 5 h. Treatments combining CA and Protein Kinase C agonists result in an even larger increase of abundance while conserving noise levels with a highly non-linear increase in variance of up to 63× untreated controls. Finally, drug combinations provide non-antagonistic combinatorial tuning of gene expression noise and map a noise phase space for future applications with viral and synthetic gene vectors. Active remodeling of nucleosomes and BAF-mediated control of gene expression noise expand a toolbox for the future design and engineering of stochasticity in living systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number026106
JournalAPL Bioengineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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