Dynamical bases of cellular heterogeneity

29 June 2012

Jordi Garcia-Ojalvo
Department of Physics
Technical University of Catalonia, Spain


Cellular heterogeneity is frequently associated with the stochasticity of biochemical reactions within the cell. However, there are other mechanisms through which heterogeneous behavior can arise in cell populations. In these scenarios noise plays only a secondary role, being filtered by gene and protein circuits leading to a dynamical behavior that is unsynchronized across the population. In this talk I will discuss examples of these types of mechanisms in the particular case of embryonic stem cell pluripotency, which is known to be both strongly dynamical and heterogeneous. I will explore what we can learn from the observed heterogeneity in the levels of pluripotency factors, and from measurements of the correlated heterogeneity in pairs of such factors under different signaling scenarios. Within that context, I will present a theoretical model of pluripotency that reproduces these observations reasonably well, potentially leading us to a better understanding of the nature of pluripotency.

current theory lunch schedule