A Mathematical Model Quantifies Proliferation and Motility Effects of TGF-β on Cancer Cells
Transforming growth factor (TGF)-β is known to have properties of both a tumour suppressor and a tumour promoter. While it inhibits cell proliferation, it also increases cell motility and decreases cell–cell adhesion. Coupling mathematical modelling and experiments, we investigate the growth and motility of oncogene-expressing human mammary epithelial cells under exposure to TGF-β. We use a version of the well-known Fisher–Kolmogorov equation, and prescribe a procedure for its parametrisation. We quantify the simultaneous effects of TGF-β to increase the tendency of individual cells and cell clusters to move randomly and to decrease overall population growth. We demonstrate that in experiments with TGF-β treated cells in vitro, TGF-β increases cell motility by a factor of 2 and decreases cell proliferation by a factor of 1/2 in comparison with untreated cells.