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J Theor Biol. 2008 Feb 21;250(4):705-22. Epub 2007 Nov 4.

A hybrid cellular automaton model of clonal evolution in cancer: the emergence of the glycolytic phenotype.

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Division of Mathematics, University of Dundee, Dundee DD1 4HN, Scotland.


We present a cellular automaton model of clonal evolution in cancer aimed at investigating the emergence of the glycolytic phenotype. In the model each cell is equipped with a micro-environment response network that determines the behaviour or phenotype of the cell based on the local environment. The response network is modelled using a feed-forward neural network, which is subject to mutations when the cells divide. This implies that cells might react differently to the environment and when space and nutrients are limited only the fittest cells will survive. With this model we have investigated the impact of the environment on the growth dynamics of the tumour. In particular, we have analysed the influence of the tissue oxygen concentration and extra-cellular matrix density on the dynamics of the model. We found that the environment influences both the growth and the evolutionary dynamics of the tumour. For low oxygen concentration we observe tumours with a fingered morphology, while increasing the matrix density gives rise to more compact tumours with wider fingers. The distribution of phenotypes in the tumour is also affected, and we observe that the glycolytic phenotype is most likely to emerge in a poorly oxygenated tissue with a high matrix density. Our results suggest that it is the combined effect of the oxygen concentration and matrix density that creates an environment where the glycolytic phenotype has a growth advantage and consequently is most likely to appear.

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