Nevin Manimala Statistics

Network topology metrics explaining enrichment of hybrid epithelial mesenchymal phenotypes in metastasis

PLoS Comput Biol. 2022 Nov 8;18(11):e1010687. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010687. Online ahead of print.


Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and its reverse-Mesenchymal to Epithelial Transition (MET) are hallmarks of metastasis. Cancer cells use this reversible cellular programming to switch among Epithelial (E), Mesenchymal (M), and hybrid Epithelial/Mesenchymal (hybrid E/M) state(s) and seed tumors at distant sites. Hybrid E/M cells are often more aggressive and metastatic than the “pure” E and M cells. Thus, identifying mechanisms to inhibit hybrid E/M cells can be promising in curtailing metastasis. While multiple gene regulatory networks (GRNs) based mathematical models for EMT/MET have been developed recently, identifying topological signatures enriching hybrid E/M phenotypes remains to be done. Here, we investigate the dynamics of 13 different GRNs and report an interesting association between “hybridness” and the number of negative/positive feedback loops across the networks. While networks having more negative feedback loops favor hybrid phenotype(s), networks having more positive feedback loops (PFLs) or many HiLoops-specific combinations of PFLs, support terminal (E and M) phenotypes. We also establish a connection between “hybridness” and network-frustration by showing that hybrid phenotypes likely result from non-reinforcing interactions among network nodes (genes) and therefore tend to be more frustrated (less stable). Our analysis, thus, identifies network topology-based signatures that can give rise to, as well as prevent, the emergence of hybrid E/M phenotype in GRNs underlying EMP. Our results can have implications in terms of targeting specific interactions in GRNs as a potent way to restrict switching to the hybrid E/M phenotype(s) to curtail metastasis.

PMID:36346808 | DOI:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010687

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