Dispersal evolution in neoplasms: The role of disregulated metabolism in the evolution of cell motility

C Athena Aktipis, Carlo Maley, John W. Pepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Here, we apply the theoretical framework of dispersal evolution to understand the emergence of invasive and metastatic cells. We investigate whether the dysregulated metabolism characteristic of cancer cells may play a causal role in selection for cell motility, and thus to the tissue invasion and metastasis that define cancer. With an agent-based computational model, we show that cells with higher metabolism evolve to have higher rates of movement and that "neoplastic" cells with higher metabolism rates are able to persist in a population of "normal" cells with low metabolic rates, but only if increased metabolism is accompanied by increased motility. This is true even when the cost of motility is high. These findings suggest that higher rates of cell metabolism lead to selection for motile cells in premalignant neoplasms, which may preadapt cells for subsequent invasion and metastasis. This has important implications for understanding the progression of cancer from less invasive to more invasive cell types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-275
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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