A mathematical framework for the emergence of winners and losers in cell competition.
Pak TF., Pitt-Francis J., Baker RE.
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.