Simulation of colony pattern formation under differential adhesion and cell proliferation
Proliferation of individual cells is one of the hallmarks of living systems, and collectively the cells within a colony or tissue form highly structured patterns, influencing the properties at the population level. We investigate the joint effect of proliferation in the form of cell division and cell sorting due to differential adhesion using a cellular automaton model. Through simulations and theoretical analysis akin to interface growth, we show that this model gives rise to slower than exponential growth in the case of a single cell type as well as novel colony patterns in the case of two cell types. In particular, engulfment of one cell type by the other is strongly enhanced compared to the prediction from the differential adhesion hypothesis in the absence of proliferation. These observations provide new insights in predicting and characterizing colony morphology using experimentally accessible information such as single cell growth rate and cell adhesion strength.