Synchronised oscillations in growing cell populations are explained by demographic noise

Enrico Gavagnin, Sean Vittadello, Gency Gunasingh, Nikolas Haass, Matthew Simpson, Tim Rogers, Christian Yates

Research output: Other contribution


Understanding synchrony in growing populations is important for applications as diverse as epidemiology and cancer treatment. Recent experiments employing fluorescent reporters in melanoma cell lines have uncovered growing subpopulations exhibiting sustained oscillations, with nearby cells appearing to synchronise their cycles. In this study we demonstrate that the behaviour observed is consistent with long-lasting transient phenomenon initiated, and amplified by the finite-sample effects and demographic noise. We present a novel mathematical analysis of a multi-stage model of cell growth which accurately reproduces the synchronised oscillations. As part of the analysis, we elucidate the transient and asymptotic phases of the dynamics and derive an analytical formula to quantify the effect of demographic noise in the appearance of the oscillations. The implications of these findings are broad, such as providing insight into experimental protocols that are used to study the growth of asynchronous populations and, in particular, those investigations relating to anti-cancer drug discovery.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
PublisherCell Press
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2021


  • synchronicity
  • cell proliferation

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