The three-way switch operation of Rac1/RhoA GTPase-based circuit controlling amoeboid-hybrid-mesenchymal transition
Metastatic carcinoma cells exhibit at least two different phenotypes of motility and invasion - amoeboid and mesenchymal. This plasticity poses a major clinical challenge for treating metastasis, while its underlying mechanisms remain enigmatic. Transitions between these phenotypes are mediated by the Rac1/RhoA circuit that responds to external signals such as HGF/SF via c-MET pathway. Using detailed modeling of GTPase-based regulation to study the Rac1/RhoA circuit's dynamics, we found that it can operate as a three-way switch. We propose to associate the circuit's three possible states to the amoeboid, mesenchymal and amoeboid/mesenchymal hybrid phenotype. In particular, we investigated the range of existence of, and the transition between, the three states (phenotypes) in response to Grb2 and Gab1 - two downstream adaptors of c-MET. The results help to explain the regulation of metastatic cells by c-MET pathway and hence can contribute to the assessment of possible clinical interventions.
computational models; computer modelling; cancer models