Intratumoral heterogeneity (ITH) has been regarded as a key cause of the failure and resistance of cancer therapy, but how it behaves and functions remains unclear. Advances in single-cell analysis have facilitated the collection of a massive amount of data about genetic and molecular states of individual cancer cells, providing a fuel to dissect the mechanistic organization of ITH at the molecular, metabolic and positional level. Taking advantage of these data, we propose a computational model to rewire up a topological network of cell-cell interdependences and interactions that operate within a tumor mass. The model is grounded on the premise of game theory that each interactive cell (player) strives to maximize its fitness by pursuing a "rational self-interest" strategy, war or peace, in a way that senses and alters other cells to respond properly. By integrating this idea with genome-wide association studies for intratumoral cells, the model is equipped with a capacity to visualize, annotate and quantify how somatic mutations mediate ITH and the network of intratumoral interactions. Taken together, the model provides a topological flow by which cancer cells within a tumor cooperate or compete with each other to downstream pathogenesis. This topological flow can be potentially used as a blueprint for genetically intervening the pattern and strength of cell-cell interactions towards cancer control.
Sang, Mengmeng; Rice, Shawn; Jiang, Libo; Liu, Xin; Gragnoli, Claudia; Belani, Chandra P.; and Wu, Rongling, "A rewiring model of intratumoral interaction networks." (2019). Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Faculty Papers. Paper 3.
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