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Anticipating critical transitions in epithelial-hybrid-mesenchymal cell-fate determination

Sarkar, S and Sinha, SK and Levine, H and Jolly, MK and Dutta, PS (2019) Anticipating critical transitions in epithelial-hybrid-mesenchymal cell-fate determination. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 116 (52). pp. 26343-26352.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1913773116


In the vicinity of a tipping point, critical transitions occur when small changes in an input condition cause sudden, large, and often irreversible changes in the state of a system. Many natural systems ranging from ecosystems to molecular biosystems are known to exhibit critical transitions in their response to stochastic perturbations. In diseases, an early prediction of upcoming critical transitions from a healthy to a disease state by using early-warning signals is of prime interest due to potential application in forecasting disease onset. Here, we analyze cell-fate transitions between different phenotypes (epithelial, hybridepithelial/ mesenchymal E/M, and mesenchymal states) that are implicated in cancer metastasis and chemoresistance. These transitions are mediated by a mutually inhibitory feedback loop- microRNA-200/ZEB-driven by the levels of transcription factor SNAIL. We find that the proximity to tipping points enabling these transitions among different phenotypes can be captured by critical slowing down-based early-warning signals, calculated from the trajectory of ZEB messenger RNA level. Further, the basin stability analysis reveals the unexpectedly large basin of attraction for a hybrid-E/M phenotype. Finally, we identified mechanisms that can potentially elude the transition to a hybrid- E/M phenotype. Overall, our results unravel the early-warning signals that can be used to anticipate upcoming epithelial-hybridmesenchymal transitions. With the emerging evidence about the hybrid-E/M phenotype being a key driver of metastasis, drug resistance, and tumor relapse, our results suggest ways to potentially evade these transitions, reducing the fitness of cancer cells and restricting tumor aggressiveness.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Authors.
Keywords: microRNA 200; transcription factor Snail; transcription factor ZEB1, Article; cancer recurrence; cell fate; drug resistance; epithelial mesenchymal transition; feedback system; mathematical model; metastasis potential; Monte Carlo method; phase transition; phenotype; priority journal; signal transduction
Department/Centre: Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences > Centre for Biosystems Science and Engineering
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2022 05:46
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2022 05:46
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/77375

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