Niche construction game cancer cells play


Niche construction concept was originally defined in evolutionary biology as the continuous interplay between natural selection via environmental conditions and the modification of these conditions by the organism itself. Processes unraveling during cancer metastasis include construction of niches, which cancer cells use towards more efficient survival, transport into new environments and preparation of the remote sites for their arrival. Many elegant experiments were done lately illustrating, for example, the premetastatic niche construction, but there is practically no mathematical modeling done which would apply the niche construction framework. To create models useful for understanding niche construction role in cancer progression, we argue that a) genetic, b) phenotypic and c) ecological levels are to be included. While the model proposed here is phenomenological in its current form, it can be converted into a predictive outcome model via experimental measurement of the model parameters. Here we give an overview of an experimentally formulated problem in cancer metastasis and propose how niche construction framework can be utilized and broadened to model it. Other life science disciplines, such as host-parasite coevolution, may also benefit from niche construction framework adaptation, to satisfy growing need for theoretical considerations of data collected by experimental biology.

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Correspondence to Bojana Gligorijevic.

Additional information

Contribution to the Focus Point on “The Physics of Cancer” edited by M. Ben Amar.

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Bergman, A., Gligorijevic, B. Niche construction game cancer cells play. Eur. Phys. J. Plus 130, 203 (2015).

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  • Cancer Stem Cell
  • Niche Construction
  • Secondary Site
  • Secondary Organ
  • Niche Construction Theory