Critical Points in Tumorigenesis: A Carcinogen-Initiated Phase Transition Analyzed via Single-Cell Proteomics

Suresh Kumar Poovathingal, Nataly Kravchenko-Balasha, Young Shik Shin, Raphael David Levine, James R. Heath*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A kinetic, single-cell proteomic study of chemically induced carcinogenesis is interpreted by treating the single-cell data as fluctuations of an open system transitioning between different steady states. In analogy to a first-order transition, phase coexistence and the loss of degrees of freedom are observed. The transition is detected well before the appearance of the traditional biomarker of the carcinogenic transformation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1425-1431
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - 16 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
S.K.P. and N.K.-B. contributed equally to this work. S.K.P. and J.R.H. conceived and designed the project. S.K.P. planned and carried out the research. N.K.B. and R.D.L. developed the theory. N.K.B. performed the theoretical analysis with inputs from other authors. Y.S.S. contributed to reagent/analysis tools. S.K.P., N.K.B., R.D.L. and J.R.H., were involved in discussion of results and in preparing the manuscript. The authors are grateful to Rudi Balling, Alexander Skupin and Yaron Antebi for their detailed and insightful discussion and comments on the contents of the manuscript. This work is funded by the National Cancer Institute through grant 5U54 CA119347, the Jean Perkins Foundation, the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, and an Intermobility grant Sinc-Prot; 2013 from Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.


  • carcinogenesis
  • microfluidics
  • phase transition
  • single-cell proteomics
  • steady state


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