How receptor diffusion influences gradient sensing

H. Nguyen, P. Dayan, G. J. Goodhill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Chemotaxis, or directed motion in chemical gradients, is critical for various biological processes. Many eukaryotic cells perform spatial sensing, i.e. they detect gradients by comparing spatial differences in binding occupancy of chemosensory receptors across their membrane. In many theoretical models of spatial sensing, it is assumed, for the sake of simplicity, that the receptors concerned do not move. However, in reality, receptors undergo diverse modes of diffusion, and can traverse considerable distances in the time it takes such cells to turn in an external gradient. This sets a physical limit on the accuracy of spatial sensing, which we explore using a model in which receptors diffuse freely over the membrane. We find that the Fisher information carried in binding and unbinding events decreases monotonically with the diffusion constant of the receptors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20141097
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number102
StatePublished - 2014


  • Chemotaxis
  • Fisher information
  • Receptor diffusion
  • Spatial sensing


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