Entropy-driven cell decision-making predicts ‘fluid-to-solid’ transition in multicellular systems

Arnab Barua, Simon Syga, Pietro Mascheroni, Nikos Kavallaris, Michael Meyer-Hermann, Andreas Deutsch, Haralampos Hatzikirou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Cellular decision making allows cells to assume functionally different phenotypes in response to microenvironmental cues, with or without genetic change. It is an open question, how individual cell decisions influence the dynamics at the tissue level. Here, we study spatio-temporal pattern formation in a population of cells exhibiting phenotypic plasticity, which is a paradigm of cell decision making. We focus on the migration/resting and the migration/proliferation plasticity which underly the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and the go or grow dichotomy. We assume that cells change their phenotype in order to minimize their microenvironmental entropy following the LEUP (Least microEnvironmental Uncertainty Principle) hypothesis. In turn, we study the impact of the LEUP-driven migration/resting and migration/proliferation plasticity on the corresponding multicellular spatio-temporal dynamics with a stochastic cell-based mathematical model for the spatio-temporal dynamics of the cell phenotypes. In the case of the go or rest plasticity, a corresponding mean-field approximation allows to identify a bistable switching mechanism between a diffusive (fluid) and an epithelial (solid) tissue phase which depends on the sensitivity of the phenotypes to the environment. For the go or grow plasticity, we show the possibility of Turing pattern formation for the ‘solid’ tissue phase and its relation with the parameters of the LEUP-driven cell decisions.

Original languageBritish English
Article number123034
JournalNew Journal of Physics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Cell-decision making
  • Fluid-to-solid transition
  • Langevin equations
  • Least microEnvironmental uncertainty principle (LEUP)
  • Mean-field theory
  • Phenotypic plasticity


Dive into the research topics of 'Entropy-driven cell decision-making predicts ‘fluid-to-solid’ transition in multicellular systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this