A landscape perspective on single cell biology

(Hong Qian) #1

As some of you might have known, one of the significant ideas in the field of single protein biophysics and protein folding kinetics is the notion of energy landscape, first proposed by biophysicist Hans Frauenfelder. It has become a powerful heuristic metaphore as well as analytic global tool in protein science. In addition to Hans Frauenfelder’s protein energy landscape, there are many other landscapes as metaphors in biology, e.g., Waddington’s differentiation landscape (for single cell?) and Wright’s fitness landscape. But from a more rigorous physical chemistry standpoint, there is no “energy function” (potential of mean force) for a nonequilibrium driven system under a chemostat, such as a single cell. Recent development in the nonequilibrium stochastic thermodynamics suggests that there seems to be a legitimate “emergent landscape” for living biochemical systems. We take the liberty here to send you a new review article:
We hope it provides a new kind of analytical vocabulary for the single-cell biology community.

S. Huang, F. Li, J. Zhou, and H. Qian