A minimalistic resource allocation model to explain ubiquitous increase in protein expression with growth rate

Uri Barenholz, Leeat Keren, Eran Segal, Ron Milo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Most proteins show changes in level across growth conditions. Many of these changes seem to be coordinated with the specific growth rate rather than the growth environment or the protein function. Although cellular growth rates, gene expression levels and gene regulation have been at the center of biological research for decades, there are only a few models giving a base line prediction of the dependence of the proteome fraction occupied by a gene with the specific growth rate. We present a simple model that predicts a widely coordinated increase in the fraction of many proteins out of the proteome, proportionally with the growth rate. The model reveals how passive redistribution of resources, due to active regulation of only a few proteins, can have proteome wide effects that are quantitatively predictable. Our model provides a potential explanation for why and how such a coordinated response of a large fraction of the proteome to the specific growth rate arises under different environmental conditions. The simplicity of our model can also be useful by serving as a baseline null hypothesis in the search for active regulation. We exemplify the usage of the model by analyzing the relationship between growth rate and proteome composition for the model microorganism E.coli as reflected in recent proteomics data sets spanning various growth conditions. We find that the fraction out of the proteome of a large number of proteins, and from different cellular processes, increases proportionally with the growth rate. Notably, ribosomal proteins, which have been previously reported to increase in fraction with growth rate, are only a small part of this group of proteins. We suggest that, although the fractions of many proteins change with the growth rate, such changes may be partially driven by a global effect, not necessarily requiring specific cellular control mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0153344
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'A minimalistic resource allocation model to explain ubiquitous increase in protein expression with growth rate'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this