Universal algorithm for identification of fractional Brownian motion. A case of telomere subdiffusion

Krzysztof Burnecki, Eldad Kepten, Joanna Janczura, Irena Bronshtein, Yuval Garini, Aleksander Weron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


We present a systematic statistical analysis of the recently measured individual trajectories of fluorescently labeled telomeres in the nucleus of living human cells. The experiments were performed in the U2OS cancer cell line. We propose an algorithm for identification of the telomere motion. By expanding the previously published data set, we are able to explore the dynamics in six time orders, a task not possible earlier. As a result, we establish a rigorous mathematical characterization of the stochastic process and identify the basic mathematical mechanisms behind the telomere motion. We find that the increments of the motion are stationary, Gaussian, ergodic, and even more chaotic - mixing. Moreover, the obtained memory parameter estimates, as well as the ensemble average mean square displacement reveal subdiffusive behavior at all time spans. All these findings statistically prove a fractional Brownian motion for the telomere trajectories, which is confirmed by a generalized p-variation test. Taking into account the biophysical nature of telomeres as monomers in the chromatin chain, we suggest polymer dynamics as a sufficient framework for their motion with no influence of other models. In addition, these results shed light on other studies of telomere motion and the alternative telomere lengthening mechanism. We hope that identification of these mechanisms will allow the development of a proper physical and biological model for telomere subdynamics. This array of tests can be easily implemented to other data sets to enable quick and accurate analysis of their statistical characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1839-1847
Number of pages9
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number9
StatePublished - 7 Nov 2012


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