Dynamics and growth rate implications of ribosomes and mRNAs interaction in E. coli

Tin Phan, Changhan He, Irakli Loladze, Clay Prater, Jim Elser, Yang Kuang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Understanding how cells grow and adapt under various nutrient conditions is pivotal in the study of biological stoichiometry. Recent studies provide empirical evidence that cells use multiple strategies to maintain an optimal protein production rate under different nutrient conditions. Mathematical models can provide a solid theoretical foundation that can explain experimental observations and generate testable hypotheses to further our understanding of the growth process. In this study, we generalize a modeling framework that centers on the translation process and study its asymptotic behaviors to validate algebraic manipulations involving the steady states. Using experimental results on the growth of E. coli under C-, N-, and P-limited environments, we simulate the expected quantitative measurements to show the feasibility of using the model to explain empirical evidence. Our results support the findings that cells employ multiple strategies to maintain a similar protein production rate across different nutrient limitations. Moreover, we find that the previous study underestimates the significance of certain biological rates, such as the binding rate of ribosomes to mRNA and the transition rate between different ribosomal stages. Furthermore, our simulation shows that the strategies used by cells under C- and P-limitations result in a faster overall growth dynamics than under N-limitation. In conclusion, the general modeling framework provides a valuable platform to study cell growth under different nutrient supply conditions, which also allows straightforward extensions to the coupling of transcription, translation, and energetics to deepen our understanding of the growth process.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere09820
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • Cell growth
  • Growth rate hypothesis
  • Inactive ribosomes
  • Mathematical analysis
  • Model formulation
  • Model validation
  • Translation dynamics


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