Exact protein distributions for stochastic models of gene expression using partitioning of Poisson processes
Kulkarni, R. V.
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Stochasticity in gene expression gives rise to fluctuations in protein levels across a population of genetically identical cells. Such fluctuations can lead to phenotypic variation in clonal populations; hence, there is considerable interest in quantifying noise in gene expression using stochastic models. However, obtaining exact analytical results for protein distributions has been an intractable task for all but the simplest models. Here, we invoke the partitioning property of Poisson processes to develop a mapping that significantly simplifies the analysis of stochastic models of gene expression. The mapping leads to exact protein distributions using results for mRNA distributions in models with promoter-based regulation. Using this approach, we derive exact analytical results for steady-state and time-dependent distributions for the basic two-stage model of gene expression. Furthermore, we show how the mapping leads to exact protein distributions for extensions of the basic model that include the effects of posttranscriptional and posttranslational regulation. The approach developed in this work is widely applicable and can contribute to a quantitative understanding of stochasticity in gene expression and its regulation.