High-resolution studies of lysis–lysogeny decision-making in bacteriophage lambda Academic Article uri icon


  • Cellular decision-making guides complex development such as cell differentiation and disease progression. Much of our knowledge about decision-making is derived from simple models, such as bacteriophage lambda infection, in which lambda chooses between the vegetative lytic fate and the dormant lysogenic fate. This paradigmatic system is broadly understood but lacking mechanistic details, partly due to limited resolution of past studies. Here, we discuss how modern technologies have enabled high-resolution examination of lambda decision-making to provide new insights and exciting possibilities in studying this classical system. The advent of techniques for labeling specific DNA, RNA, and proteins in cells allows for molecular-level characterization of events in lambda development. These capabilities yield both new answers and new questions regarding how the isolated lambda genetic circuit acts, what biological events transpire among phages in their natural context, and how the synergy of simple phage macromolecules brings about complex behaviors.

altmetric score

  • 21.42

author list (cited authors)

  • Shao, Q., Trinh, J. T., & Zeng, L.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Shao, Qiuyan||Trinh, Jimmy T||Zeng, Lanying

publication date

  • March 2019