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Publications of Eduardo D. Sontag jointly with L. Goentoro
Articles in journal or book chapters
and U. Alon.
Fold change detection and scalar symmetry of sensory input fields.
Proc Natl Acad Sci USA,
Certain cellular sensory systems display fold-change detection (FCD): a response whose entire shape, including amplitude and duration, depends only on fold-changes in input, and not on absolute changes. Thus, a step change in input from, say, level 1 to 2, gives precisely the same dynamical output as a step from level 2 to 4, since the steps have the same fold-change. We ask what is the benefit of FCD, and show that FCD is necessary and sufficient for sensory search to be independent of multiplying the input-field by a scalar. Thus the FCD search pattern depends only on the spatial profile of the input, and not on its amplitude. Such scalar symmetry occurs in a wide range of sensory inputs, such as source strength multiplying diffusing/convecting chemical fields sensed in chemotaxis, ambient light multiplying the contrast field in vision, and protein concentrations multiplying the output in cellular signaling-systems.Furthermore, we demonstrate that FCD entails two features found across sensory systems, exact adaptation and Weber's law, but that these two features are not sufficient for FCD. Finally, we present a wide class of mechanisms that have FCD, including certain non-linear feedback and feedforward loops.. We find that bacterial chemotaxis displays feedback within the present class, and hence is expected to show FCD. This can explain experiments in which chemotaxis searches are insensitive to attractant source levels. This study thus suggests a connection between properties of biological sensory systems and scalar symmetry stemming from physical properties of their input-fields.
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