Biocomplexity of Inducible Cells

Bradly Alicea
Cellular Reprogramming Laboratory
Michigan State University
Presented in the Embryo Physics Course, February 26, 2009


In recent years, biotechnological advances have allowed for differentiated cells representing one state (e.g. fibroblasts) to be converted into both pluripotent (e.g. stem-like) and differentiated (e.g. neuronal) cell types. While many studies have focused on optimizing the process of conversion solely through advanced techniques in cell transfection and transgenic delivery, a smaller but growing area of research has focused on understanding the fundamental processes behind reprogramming using physical models and computational approaches. In this talk, I will introduce the term “inducible” to reinterpret reprogramming as a stochastic, combinatorial, and heterogeneous process. This will follow with a review of both recently published and original research that provides insight into multiple aspects of this process. This includes models that focus on cell proliferation, molecular cascades within a single cell, and the role of infection and intercellular signaling in predicting phenotypic conversion. While a series of competing models are introduced, the goal is not to converge at a “right” or “wrong” answer. Instead, the goal is to appreciate the diversity of approaches required to gain a full appreciation of the biocomplexity inherent in this developmental-like process. To put this diversity of approaches into context, future directions for modeling and wet-lab investigation will be discussed.



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