%0 Journal Article
%A Parag, Kris V
%T On Signalling and Estimation Limits for Molecular Birth-Processes
%D 2019
%R 10.1101/319889
%J bioRxiv
%P 319889
%X Understanding and uncovering the mechanisms or motifs that molecular networks employ to regulate noise is a key problem in cell biology. As it is often difficult to obtain direct and detailed insight into these mechanisms, many studies instead focus on assessing the best precision attainable on the signalling pathways that compose these networks. Molecules signal one another over such pathways to solve noise regulating estimation and control problems. Quantifying the maximum precision of these solutions delimits what is achievable and allows hypotheses about underlying motifs to be tested without requiring detailed biological knowledge. The pathway capacity, which defines the maximum rate of transmitting information along it, is a widely used proxy for precision. Here it is shown, for estimation problems involving elementary yet biologically relevant birth-process networks, that capacity can be surprisingly misleading. A time-optimal signalling motif, called birth-following, is derived and proven to better the precision expected from the capacity, provided the maximum signalling rate constraint is large and the mean one above a certain threshold. When the maximum constraint is relaxed, perfect estimation is predicted by the capacity. However, the true achievable precision is found highly variable and sensitive to the mean constraint. Since the same capacity can map to different combinations of rate constraints, it can only equivocally measure precision. Deciphering the rate constraints on a signalling pathway may therefore be more important than computing its capacity.
%U https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2019/07/09/319889.full.pdf