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An integrative phenotype-structured partial differential equation model for the population dynamics of epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Jules Guilberteau (LJLL)Paras Jain (IISc Bangalore)Mohit Kumar Jolly (IISc Bangalore)Nastassia Pouradier Duteil (LJLL)Camille Pouchol (MAP5)
Sep 2023
Phenotypic heterogeneity along the epithelial-mesenchymal (E-M) axis contributes to cancer metastasis and drug resistance. Recent experimental efforts have collated detailed time-course data on the emergence and dynamics of E-M heterogeneity in a cell population. However, it remains unclear how different possible processes interplay in shaping the dynamics of E-M heterogeneity: a) intracellular regulatory interaction among biomolecules, b) cell division and death, and c) stochastic cell-state transition (biochemical reaction noise and asymmetric cell division). Here, we propose a Cell Population Balance (Partial Differential Equation (PDE)) based model that captures the dynamics of cell population density along the E-M phenotypic axis due to abovementioned multi-scale cellular processes. We demonstrate how population distribution resulting from intracellular regulatory networks driving cell-state transition gets impacted by stochastic fluctuations in E-M regulatory biomolecules, differences in growth rates among cell subpopulations, and initial population distribution. Further, we reveal that a linear dependence of the cell growth rate on the population heterogeneity is sufficient to recapitulate the faster in vivo growth of orthotopic injected heterogeneous E-M subclones reported before experimentally. Overall, our model contributes to the combined understanding of intracellular and cell-population levels dynamics in the emergence of E-M heterogeneity in a cell population.
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