Relating individual cell division events to single-cell ERK and Akt activity time courses

Alan D. Stern, Gregory R. Smith, Luis C. Santos, Deepraj Sarmah, Xiang Zhang, Xiaoming Lu, Federico Iuricich, Gaurav Pandey, Ravi Iyengar, Marc R. Birtwistle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Biochemical correlates of stochastic single-cell fates have been elusive, even for the well-studied mammalian cell cycle. We monitored single-cell dynamics of the ERK and Akt pathways, critical cell cycle progression hubs and anti-cancer drug targets, and paired them to division events in the same single cells using the non-transformed MCF10A epithelial line. Following growth factor treatment, in cells that divide both ERK and Akt activities are significantly higher within the S-G2 time window (~ 8.5–40 h). Such differences were much smaller in the pre-S-phase, restriction point window which is traditionally associated with ERK and Akt activity dependence, suggesting unappreciated roles for ERK and Akt in S through G2. Simple metrics of central tendency in this time window are associated with subsequent cell division fates. ERK activity was more strongly associated with division fates than Akt activity, suggesting Akt activity dynamics may contribute less to the decision driving cell division in this context. We also find that ERK and Akt activities are less correlated with each other in cells that divide. Network reconstruction experiments demonstrated that this correlation behavior was likely not due to crosstalk, as ERK and Akt do not interact in this context, in contrast to other transformed cell types. Overall, our findings support roles for ERK and Akt activity throughout the cell cycle as opposed to just before the restriction point, and suggest ERK activity dynamics may be more important than Akt activity dynamics for driving cell division in this non-transformed context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18077
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


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