Dynamic Rendering of the Heterogeneous Cell Response to Anticancer Treatments

Francesca Falcetta, Monica Lupi, Valentina Colombo, Paolo Ubezio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The antiproliferative response to anticancer treatment is the result of concurrent responses in all cell cycle phases, extending over several cell generations, whose complexity is not captured by current methods. In the proposed experimental/computational approach, the contemporary use of time-lapse live cell microscopy and flow cytometric data supported the computer rendering of the proliferative process through the cell cycle and subsequent generations during/after treatment. The effects of treatments were modelled with modules describing the functional activity of the main pathways causing arrest, repair and cell death in each phase. A framework modelling environment was created, enabling us to apply different types of modules in each phase and test models at the complexity level justified by the available data. We challenged the method with time-course measures taken in parallel with flow cytometry and time-lapse live cell microscopy in X-ray-treated human ovarian cancer cells, spanning a wide range of doses. The most suitable model of the treatment, including the dose-response of each effect, was progressively built, combining modules with a rational strategy and fitting simultaneously all data of different doses and platforms. The final model gave for the first time the complete rendering in silico of the cycling process following X-ray exposure, providing separate and quantitative measures of the dose-dependence of G1, S and G2M checkpoint activities in subsequent generations, reconciling known effects of ionizing radiations and new insights in a unique scenario.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1003293
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Ecology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics

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