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Complexity Forum: Iain Johnston (University of Birmingham)
Evolution of cell-to-cell variability in stochastic, controlled, heteroplasmic mtDNA populations
Populations of mtDNA molecules exist in our cells, under the control of our nuclei, and replicating and degrading independently of the cell cycle. These evolving cellular populations encode energetically vital cellular machinery and have strikingly nonlinear effects on cell physiology: if the proportion of mutant molecules comes to pass a threshold value, deadly and incurable diseases become manifest. It's therefore vital to understand not just the mean behaviour of mtDNA populations but also their cell-to-cell variance. I'll talk about our work using stochastic modelling to describe and predict biomedically important properties of these evolving cellular populations.