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26.02.18 Simons and Huch labs show how dynamics of biological systems offers new arena for statistical physics

last modified Feb 27, 2018 02:00 PM
This paper in Nature Physics shows that principles emerging from a study of cell lineage clusters can be mapped to the dynamics of aerosols
26.02.18 Simons and Huch labs show how dynamics of biological systems offers new arena for statistical physics

Mosaic labelling of the developing mouse heart at E12.5.

Universality of clone dynamics during tissue development

Rulands S et al. (2018) Nature Physics DOI:10.1038/s41567-018-0055-6


Abstract from the paper

The emergence of complex organs is driven by the coordinated proliferation, migration and differentiation of precursor cells. The fate behaviour of these cells is reflected in the time evolution their progeny, termed clones, which serve as a key experimental observable. In adult tissues, where cell dynamics is constrained by the condition of homeostasis, clonal tracing studies based on transgenic animal models have advanced our understanding of cell fate behaviour and its dysregulation in disease. But what can be learned from clonal dynamics in development, where the spatial cohesiveness of clones is impaired by tissue deformations during tissue growth?

Drawing on the results of clonal tracing studies, we show that, despite the complexity of organ development, clonal dynamics may converge to a critical state characterized by universal scaling behaviour of clone sizes. By mapping clonal dynamics onto a generalization of the classical theory of aerosols, we elucidate the origin and range of scaling behaviours and show how the identification of universal scaling dependences may allow lineage-specific information to be distilled from experiments.

Our study shows the emergence of core concepts of statistical physics in an unexpected context, identifying cellular systems as a laboratory to study non-equilibrium statistical physics.



Read more about research in the Simons lab and watch Ben Simons describe his research on video.

Read more about the Huch lab and watch Meri Huch on video.

Studying development to understand disease

The Gurdon Institute is funded by Wellcome and Cancer Research UK to study the biology of development, and how normal growth and maintenance go wrong in cancer and other diseases.

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