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Scientists offer way to address 'age-old' questions
Date:9/7/2011

responding to their environment or is the change random?

Kussell and Leibler sought to develop a method that could disentangle these strategies. They showed that individual histories of cellstheir lineageswould reveal differences between stochastic and responsive switching.

"Since stochastic switching organisms rely on selection to survive, we expected that if we could measure the strength of selection, we could distinguish the two strategies," Kussell said. "Once again, selection leaves a key signature in the population's lineage tree. In this case, the signature is the variance in cell divisions between lineages. If we measure that, then we can tell which strategy the cells are using internally."

The researchers simulated bacteria growing under fluctuating environmental conditions, and applied their lineage-based tests. This allowed them to show that the lineage tree indeed contains sufficient information to distinguish the two cellular strategies.

The importance of stochastic switching has recently been demonstrated in populations of cancer cells. With improved lineage tracking tools for cancer cells, it may soon become possible to apply some of the ideas that Kussell and co-workers have been developing in the bacterial context, also in other systems, such as tumor and stem cell populations.


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Contact: James Devitt
james.devitt@nyu.edu
212-998-6808
New York University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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