Distinguishing between stochasticity and determinism: Examples from cell cycle duration variability

Sivan Pearl Mizrahi, Oded Sandler, Laura Lande-Diner, Nathalie Q. Balaban*, Itamar Simon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We describe a recent approach for distinguishing between stochastic and deterministic sources of variability, focusing on the mammalian cell cycle. Variability between cells is often attributed to stochastic noise, although it may be generated by deterministic components. Interestingly, lineage information can be used to distinguish between variability and determinism. Analysis of correlations within a lineage of the mammalian cell cycle duration revealed its deterministic nature. Here, we discuss the sources of such variability and the possibility that the underlying deterministic process is due to the circadian clock. Finally, we discuss the "kicked cell cycle" model and its implication on the study of the cell cycle in healthy and cancerous tissues. New observations of cell cycle duration in lineages of cells suggest that cell-to-cell variability may be less stochastic than previously thought. Looking at correlations between cells in a lineage suggests a deterministic underlying process, possibly orchestrated by the circadian clock.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8-13
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.


  • Cell cycle
  • Determinism
  • Inheritance
  • Lineage
  • Single cell
  • Stochasticity
  • Variability


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