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Issue 14, 2018
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Cell–cell bioelectrical interactions and local heterogeneities in genetic networks: a model for the stabilization of single-cell states and multicellular oscillations

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Abstract

Genetic networks operate in the presence of local heterogeneities in single-cell transcription and translation rates. Bioelectrical networks and spatio-temporal maps of cell electric potentials can influence multicellular ensembles. Could cell–cell bioelectrical interactions mediated by intercellular gap junctions contribute to the stabilization of multicellular states against local genetic heterogeneities? We theoretically analyze this question on the basis of two well-established experimental facts: (i) the membrane potential is a reliable read-out of the single-cell electrical state and (ii) when the cells are coupled together, their individual cell potentials can be influenced by ensemble-averaged electrical potentials. We propose a minimal biophysical model for the coupling between genetic and bioelectrical networks that associates the local changes occurring in the transcription and translation rates of an ion channel protein with abnormally low (depolarized) cell potentials. We then analyze the conditions under which the depolarization of a small region (patch) in a multicellular ensemble can be reverted by its bioelectrical coupling with the (normally polarized) neighboring cells. We show also that the coupling between genetic and bioelectric networks of non-excitable cells, modulated by average electric potentials at the multicellular ensemble level, can produce oscillatory phenomena. The simulations show the importance of single-cell potentials characteristic of polarized and depolarized states, the relative sizes of the abnormally polarized patch and the rest of the normally polarized ensemble, and intercellular coupling.

Graphical abstract: Cell–cell bioelectrical interactions and local heterogeneities in genetic networks: a model for the stabilization of single-cell states and multicellular oscillations

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Publication details

The article was received on 01 Dec 2017, accepted on 04 Mar 2018 and first published on 06 Mar 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C8CP00648B
Citation: Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018,20, 9343-9354
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    Cell–cell bioelectrical interactions and local heterogeneities in genetic networks: a model for the stabilization of single-cell states and multicellular oscillations

    J. Cervera, J. A. Manzanares and S. Mafe, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2018, 20, 9343
    DOI: 10.1039/C8CP00648B

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