Cell cycle heterogeneity can generate robust cell type proportioning

Nicole Gruenheit, Katie Parkinson, Christopher Brimson, Satoshi Kuwana, Edward Johnson, Koki Nagayama, Jack Llewellyn, William Salvidge, Balint Stewart, Thomas Keller, Wouter Van Zon, Simon Cotter, Christopher Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell-cell heterogeneity can facilitate lineage choice during embryonic development because it primes cells to respond to differentiation cues. However, remarkably little is known about the origin of heterogeneity, or if intrinsic and extrinsic variation can be controlled to generate reproducible cell type proportioning seen in vivo. Here, we use experimentation and modeling in D. discoideum to demonstrate that population level cell cycle heterogeneity can be optimized to generate robust cell fate proportioning. Firstly, cell cycle position is quantitatively linked to responsiveness to differentiation inducing signals. Secondly, intrinsic variation in cell cycle length ensures cells are randomly distributed throughout the cell cycle at the onset of multicellular development. Finally, extrinsic perturbation of optimal cell cycle heterogeneity is buffered by compensatory changes in global signal responsiveness. These studies thus illustrate key regulatory principles underlying cell-cell heterogeneity optimization and the generation of robust and reproducible fate choice in development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-508
JournalDevelopmental cell
Issue number4
Early online date25 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2018


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