A mathematical modelling framework for the regulation of intra-cellular OCT4 in human pluripotent stem cells

L. E. Wadkin*, S. Orozco-Fuentes, I. Neganova, M. Lako, N. G. Parker, A. Shukurov

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have the potential to differentiate into all cell types, a property known as pluripotency. A deeper understanding of how pluripotency is regulated is required to assist in controlling pluripotency and differentiation trajectories experimentally. Mathematical modelling provides a non-invasive tool through which to explore, characterise and replicate the regulation of pluripotency and the consequences on cell fate. Here we use experimental data of the expression of the pluripotency transcription factor OCT4 in a growing hPSC colony to develop and evaluate mathematical models for temporal pluripotency regulation. We consider fractional Brownian motion and the stochastic logistic equation and explore the effects of both additive and multiplicative noise. We illustrate the use of time-dependent carrying capacities and the introduction of Allee effects to the stochastic logistic equation to describe cell differentiation. We conclude both methods adequately capture the decline in OCT4 upon differentiation, but the Allee effect model has the advantage of allowing differentiation to occur stochastically in a sub-set of cells. This mathematical framework for describing intra-cellular OCT4 regulation can be extended to other transcription factors and developed into predictive models.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0254991
Number of pages22
JournalPLoS One
Volume16
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2021

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