Homo-Oligomerisation in Signal Transduction: Dynamics, Homeostasis, Ultrasensitivity, Bistability

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Homo-oligomerisation of proteins is a ubiquitous phenomenon whose exact role remains unclear in many cases. To identify novel functions, this paper provides an exploration of general dynamical mathematical models of homo-oligomerisation. Simulation and analysis of these models show that homo-oligomerisation on its own allows for a remarkable variety of complex dynamic and steady state regulatory behaviour such as transient overshoots or homeostatic control of monomer concentration. If post-translational modifications are considered, however, conventional mass action kinetics lead to thermodynamic inconsistencies due to asymmetric combinatorial expansion of reaction routes. Introducing a conservation principle to balance rate equations re-establishes thermodynamic consistency. Using such balanced models it is shown that oligomerisation can lead to bistability by enabling pseudo-multisite modification and kinetic pseudo-cooperativity via multi-enzyme regulation, thereby constituting a novel motif for bistable modification reactions. Due to these potential signal processing capabilities, homo-oligomerisation could play far more versatile roles in signal transduction than previously appreciated.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 27 Apr 2020


  • Protein complexes
  • Mathematical modelling
  • Dynamic signal encoding
  • Post-translational modifications
  • Multi-enzyme systems


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