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Stem cell lineage survival as a noisy competition for niche access.

  • Corominas-Murtra, Bernat
  • Scheele, Colinda LGJ
  • Kishi, Kasumi
  • Ellenbroek, Saskia IJ
  • Simons, Benjamin
  • van Rheenen, Jacco
  • Hannezo, Edouard
Publication Date
Jun 08, 2020
Apollo - University of Cambridge Repository
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Understanding to what extent stem cell potential is a cell-intrinsic property, or an emergent behavior coming from global tissue dynamics and geometry, is a key outstanding question of systems and stem cell biology. Here, we propose a theory of stem cell dynamics as a stochastic competition for access to a spatially-localized niche, giving rise to a stochastic conveyor-belt model. Cell divisions produce a steady cellular stream which advects cells away from the niche, while random rearrangements enable cells away from the niche to be favourably repositioned. Importantly, even when assuming that all cells in a tissue are molecularly equivalent, we predict a common ("universal") functional dependence of the long-term clonal survival probability on distance from the niche, as well as the emergence of a well-defined number of functional stem cells, dependent only on the rate of random movements vs. mitosis-driven advection. We test the predictions of this theory on datasets on pubertal mammary gland tips, embryonic kidney tips as well homeostatic intestinal crypt. Importantly, we find good agreement for the predicted functional dependency of the competition as a function of position, and thus functional stem cell number in each organ. This argues for a key role of positional fluctuations in dictating stem cell number and dynamics, and we discuss the applicability of this theory to other settings. / Wellcome Trust Royal Society

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