Cell-to-cell variability in signal transduction in biological systems is often considered noise. However, intercellular variation (i.e., cell-to-cell variability) has the potential to enable individual cells to encode different information. Here, we show that intercellular variation increases information transmission of skeletal muscle. We analyze the responses of multiple cultured myotubes or isolated skeletal muscle fibers as a multiple-cell channel composed of single-cell channels. We find that the multiple-cell channel, which incorporates intercellular variation as information, not noise, transmitted more information in the presence of intercellular variation than in the absence according to the “response diversity effect,” increasing in the gradualness of dose response by summing the cell-to-cell variable dose responses. We quantify the information transmission of human facial muscle contraction during intraoperative neurophysiological monitoring and find that information transmission of muscle contraction is comparable to that of a multiple-cell channel. Thus, our data indicate that intercellular variation can increase the information capacity of tissues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)