Stem Cell Differentiation as a Non-Markov Stochastic Process

Patrick S. Stumpf, Rosanna C.G. Smith, Michael Lenz, Andreas Schuppert, Franz Josef Müller, Ann Babtie, Thalia E. Chan, Michael P.H. Stumpf, Colin P. Please, Sam D. Howison, Fumio Arai, Ben D. MacArthur

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29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Pluripotent stem cells can self-renew in culture and differentiate along all somatic lineages in vivo. While much is known about the molecular basis of pluripotency, the mechanisms of differentiation remain unclear. Here, we profile individual mouse embryonic stem cells as they progress along the neuronal lineage. We observe that cells pass from the pluripotent state to the neuronal state via an intermediate epiblast-like state. However, analysis of the rate at which cells enter and exit these observed cell states using a hidden Markov model indicates the presence of a chain of unobserved molecular states that each cell transits through stochastically in sequence. This chain of hidden states allows individual cells to record their position on the differentiation trajectory, thereby encoding a simple form of cellular memory. We suggest a statistical mechanics interpretation of these results that distinguishes between functionally distinct cellular “macrostates” and functionally similar molecular “microstates” and propose a model of stem cell differentiation as a non-Markov stochastic process. We profile individual mouse embryonic stem cells as they progress along the neuronal lineage. Analysis of observed cell dynamics using a hidden Markov model reveals the presence of a chain of unobserved molecular states that each cell transits through stochastically in sequence. We suggest a statistical mechanics interpretation of these results and propose a model of stem cell differentiation as a non-Markov stochastic process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)268-282.e7
JournalCell Systems
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 27 2017

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Stumpf, P. S., Smith, R. C. G., Lenz, M., Schuppert, A., Müller, F. J., Babtie, A., ... MacArthur, B. D. (2017). Stem Cell Differentiation as a Non-Markov Stochastic Process. Cell Systems, 5(3), 268-282.e7. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cels.2017.08.009