Letter | Published:

Noise-induced enhancement of signal transduction across voltage-dependent ion channels

Nature volume 378, pages 362364 (23 November 1995) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THE presence of noise in a signal transduction system usually interferes with its ability to transfer information reliably. But many nonlinear systems can use noise to enhance performance1, and this phenomenon, called stochastic resonance, may underlie the extraordinary ability of some biological systems to detect and amplify small signals in noisy environments2–5. Previous work has demonstrated the occurrence of stochastic resonance in a complex system of biological transducers and neural signal pathways6, but the possibility that it could occur at the sub-cellular level has remained open. Here we report the observation of stochastic resonance in a system of voltage-dependent ion channels formed by the peptide alamethicin. A hundred-fold increase in signal transduction induced by external noise is accompanied by a growth in the output signal-to-noise ratio. The system of ion channels considered here represents the simplest biological system yet known to exhibit stochastic resonance.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Division of Computer Research and Technology,National Institutes of Health, Bethesda,Maryland 20892-0580, USA

    • Sergey M. Bezrukov
    •  & Igor Vodyanoy
  2. St Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, Gatchina, Russia 188350

    • Sergey M. Bezrukov
  3. Office of Naval Research, Europe, 223 Old Marylebone Road,London NW1 5TH, UK

    • Igor Vodyanoy
  4. University College London, Gower Street, London, UK

    • Igor Vodyanoy

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/378362a0

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