Signatures of heterogeneity in the statistical structure of target state aligned ensembles


Lenner N, Häring M, Eule S, Großhans J, Wolf F






Finite time convergence to functionally important target states is a key component of many biological processes. We previously found that the terminal approach phase of such dynamics exhibits universal types of stochastic dynamics that differ qualitatively between noise-dominated and force-dominated regimes of the approach dynamics. While for the noise-dominated regime the approach dynamics is uninformative about the underlying force law, in the force-dominated regime it enables the accurate inference of the underlying dynamics. Biological systems often exhibit substantial parameter heterogeneity, for instance through copy number fluctuations of key molecules or variability in modulating factors. Here, we extend our theory of target state aligned (TSA) stochastic dynamics to investigate the impact of parameter heterogeneity in the underlying stochastic dynamics. We examine the approach to target states for a wide range of dynamical laws and additive as well as multiplicative noise. We find that the distinct regimes of noise-dominated and force-dominated dynamics strongly differ in their sensitivity to parameter heterogeneity. In the noise-dominated regime, TSA ensembles are insensitive to parameter heterogeneity in the force law, but sensitive to sample to sample heterogeneity in the diffusion constant. For force-dominated dynamics, both parameter heterogeneity in the force law and diffusion constant change the behaviour of the non-stationary statistics and in particular the two-time-covariance functions. In this regime, TSA ensembles provide a sensitive readout of parameter heterogeneity. Under natural conditions, parameter heterogeneity in many biological systems cannot be experimentally controlled or eliminated. Our results provide a systematic theoretical foundation for the analysis of target state directed dynamics in a large class of systems with substantial heterogeneity.