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Scientific reports

Single Cell Dynamics Causes Pareto-Like Effect in Stimulated T Cell Populations.


PMID 26648396

Abstract

Cell fate choice during the process of differentiation may obey to deterministic or stochastic rules. In order to discriminate between these two strategies we used time-lapse microscopy of individual murine CD4 + T cells that allows investigating the dynamics of proliferation and fate commitment. We observed highly heterogeneous division and death rates between individual clones resulting in a Pareto-like dominance of a few clones at the end of the experiment. Commitment to the Treg fate was monitored using the expression of a GFP reporter gene under the control of the endogenous Foxp3 promoter. All possible combinations of proliferation and differentiation were observed and resulted in exclusively GFP-, GFP+ or mixed phenotype clones of very different population sizes. We simulated the process of proliferation and differentiation using a simple mathematical model of stochastic decision-making based on the experimentally observed parameters. The simulations show that a stochastic scenario is fully compatible with the observed Pareto-like imbalance in the final population.