Volume 88, Number 2, October 2009
Article Number 28006
Number of page(s) 6
Section Interdisciplinary Physics and Related Areas of Science and Technology
Published online 11 November 2009
EPL, 88 (2009) 28006
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/88/28006

Pattern formation of glioma cells: Effects of adhesion

E. Khain1, C. M. Schneider-Mizell2, M. O. Nowicki3, E. A. Chiocca3, S. E. Lawler3 and L. M. Sander2

1   Department of Physics, Oakland University - Rochester, MI 48309, USA
2   Department of Physics and Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics, The University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
3   Department of Neurological Surgery, The Ohio State University Medical Center - Columbus, OH 43210, USA

received 30 June 2009; accepted in final form 13 October 2009; published October 2009
published online 11 November 2009

We investigate clustering of malignant glioma cells. In vitro experiments in collagen gels identified a cell line that formed clusters in a region of low cell density, whereas a very similar cell line (which lacks an important mutation) did not cluster significantly. We hypothesize that the mutation affects the strength of cell-cell adhesion. We investigate this effect in a new experiment, which follows the clustering dynamics of glioma cells on a surface. We interpret our results in terms of a stochastic model and identify two mechanisms of clustering. First, there is a critical value of the strength of adhesion; above the threshold, large clusters grow from a homogeneous suspension of cells; below it, the system remains homogeneous, similarly to the ordinary phase separation. Second, when cells form a cluster, we have evidence that they increase their proliferation rate. We have successfully reproduced the experimental findings and found that both mechanisms are crucial for cluster formation and growth.

87.18.Hf - Spatiotemporal pattern formation in cellular populations.
87.18.Gh - Cell-cell communication; collective behavior of motile cells.
87.10.Hk - Lattice models.

© EPLA 2009