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Cell competition is a process in multicellular organisms where cells interact with their neighbours to determine a "winner" or "loser" status. The loser cells are eliminated through programmed cell death, leaving only the winner cells to populate the tissue. Cell competition is context-dependent; the same cell type can win or lose depending on the cell type it is competing against. Hence, winner/loser status is an emergent property. A key question in cell competition is: how do cells acquire their winner/loser status? In this paper, we propose a mathematical framework for studying the emergence of winner/loser status based on a set of quantitative criteria that distinguishes competitive from non-competitive outcomes. We apply this framework in a cell-based modelling context, to both highlight the crucial role of active cell death in cell competition and identify the factors that drive cell competition.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of theoretical biology



Publication Date





111666 - 111666


Animals, Apoptosis, Cell Competition, Drosophila melanogaster