Dynamic properties of noise and Her6 levels are optimized by miR-9, allowing the decoding of the Her6 oscillator

Ximena Soto Rodriguez (Corresponding), Veronica Biga, Jochen Kursawe, Robert Lea, Parnian Doostdar, Riba Thomas, Athanasia Papalopulu (Corresponding)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Noise is prevalent in biology and has been widely quantified using snapshot measurements. This static view obscures our understanding of dynamic noise properties and how these affect gene expression and cell state transitions. Using a CRISPR/Cas9 Zebrafish Her6::Venus reporter combined with mathematical and in vivo experimentation, we explore how noise affects the protein dynamics of Her6, a basic helix-loop-helix transcriptional repressor. During neurogenesis, Her6 expression transitions from fluctuating to oscillatory at single cell level. We identify that absence of miR-9 input generates high frequency noise in Her6 traces, inhibits the transition to oscillatory protein expression and prevents the downregulation of Her6. Together, these impair the upregulation of downstream targets and cells accumulate in a normally transitory state where progenitor and early differentiation markers are co-expressed. Computational modelling and double smFISH of her6 and the early neurogenesis marker, elavl3, suggest that the change in Her6 dynamics precedes the downregulation in Her6 levels. This sheds light onto the order of events at the moment of cell state transition and how this is influenced by the dynamic properties of noise. Our results suggest that Her/Hes oscillations, facilitated by dynamic noise optimization by miR-9, endow progenitor cells with the ability to make a cell state transition.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere103558
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2020


  • Her6 oscillations
  • Zebrafish neurogenesis
  • cell state transitions
  • gene expression noise
  • miR-9


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