Close to optimal cell sensing ensures the robustness of tissue differentiation process: The avian photoreceptor mosaic case

Arnab Barua, Alireza Beygi, Haralampos Hatzikirou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The way that progenitor cell fate decisions and the associated environmental sensing are regulated to ensure the robustness of the spatial and temporal order in which cells are generated towards a fully differentiating tissue still remains elusive. Here, we investigate how cells regulate their sensing intensity and radius to guarantee the required thermodynamic robustness of a differentiated tissue. In particular, we are interested in finding the conditions where dedifferentiation at cell level is possible (microscopic reversibility), but tissue maintains its spatial order and differentiation integrity (macroscopic irreversibility). In order to tackle this, we exploit the recently postulated Least microEnvironmental Uncertainty Principle (LEUP) to develop a theory of stochastic thermodynamics for cell differentiation. To assess the predictive and explanatory power of our theory, we challenge it against the avian photoreceptor mosaic data. By calibrating a single parameter, the LEUP can predict the cone color spatial distribution in the avian retina and, at the same time, suggest that such a spatial pattern is associated with quasi-optimal cell sensing. By means of the stochastic thermodynamics formalism, we find out that thermodynamic robustness of differentiated tissues depends on cell metabolism and cell sensing properties. In turn, we calculate the limits of the cell sensing radius that ensure the robustness of differentiated tissue spatial order. Finally, we further constrain our model predictions to the avian photoreceptor mosaic.

Original languageBritish English
Article number867
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Cell decision-making
  • Cell differentiation
  • Cell metabolism
  • Cell sensing
  • Entropy maximization
  • Least Microenvironmental Uncertainty Principle (LEUP)
  • Stochastic thermodynamics


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