Deterministic characterization of phase noise in biomolecular oscillators
On top of the many external perturbations, cellular oscillators also face intrinsic perturbations due the randomness of chemical kinetics. Biomolecular oscillators, distinct in their parameter sets or distinct in their architecture, show different resilience with respect to such intrinsic perturbations. Assessing this resilience can be done by ensemble stochastic simulations. These are computationally costly and do not permit further insights into the mechanistic cause of the observed resilience. For reaction systems operating at a steady state, the linear noise approximation (LNA) can be used to determine the effect of molecular noise. Here we show that methods based on LNA fail for oscillatory systems and we propose an alternative ansatz. It yields an asymptotic expression for the phase diffusion coefficient of stochastic oscillators. Moreover, it allows us to single out the noise contribution of every reaction in an oscillatory system. We test the approach on the one-loop model of the Drosophila circadian clock. Our results are consistent with those obtained through stochastic simulations with a gain in computational efficiency of about three orders of magnitude.