A new field of gene expression regulation research is emerging that has previously been overlooked. This new area is concerned with distinguishing the expression of a single gene from the averaged expression of many gene copies within the cell population. This paper reviews research focused on individual genes in inducible gene expression systems. The main experimental strategy is to measure the gene expression level of a single cell containing a single reporter gene molecule. In contrast to the commonly held belief, gene induction is found to be stochastic under certain conditions. The possible mechanisms and implications are discussed.
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