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Journal Article

A multi-phenotypic cancer model with cell plasticity


Wu,  Bin
Research Group Evolutionary Theory, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Zhou, D., Wang, Y., & Wu, B. (2014). A multi-phenotypic cancer model with cell plasticity. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 357, 35-45. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2014.04.039.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0019-D7E7-7
The conventional cancer stem cell (CSC) theory indicates a hierarchy of CSCs and non-stem cancer cells (NSCCs), that is, CSCs can differentiate into NSCCs but not vice versa. However, an alternative paradigm of CSC theory with reversible cell plasticity among cancer cells has received much attention very recently. Here we present a generalized multi-phenotypic cancer model by integrating cell plasticity with the conventional hierarchical structure of cancer cells. We prove that under very weak assumption, the nonlinear dynamics of multi-phenotypic proportions in our model has only one stable steady state and no stable limit cycle. This result theoretically explains the phenotypic equilibrium phenomena reported in various cancer cell lines. Furthermore, according to the transient analysis of our model, it is found that cancer cell plasticity plays an essential role in maintaining the phenotypic diversity in cancer especially during the transient dynamics. Two biological examples with experimental data show that the phenotypic conversions from NCSSs to CSCs greatly contribute to the transient growth of CSCs proportion shortly after the drastic reduction of it. In particular, an interesting overshooting phenomenon of CSCs proportion arises in three-phenotypic example. Our work may pave the way for modeling and analyzing the multi-phenotypic cell population dynamics with cell plasticity.