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Cell Fate: What’s Evolution Got to Do With It?

Ramsey, Grant and Durand, Pierre (2023) Cell Fate: What’s Evolution Got to Do With It? Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 96 (4). pp. 565-568.


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Theoretical frameworks concerning cell fate typically center on proximate causes to explain how cells know what type they are meant to become. While major advances in cell fate theory have been achieved by these mechanism focused frameworks, there are some aspects of cell decision-making that require an evolutionary interpretation. While mechanistic biologists sometimes turn to evolutionary theory to gain insights about cell fate (cancer is a good example), it is not entirely clear in cell fate theory what insights evolutionary theory can add, and why in some cases it is required for understanding cell fate. In this perspective we draw on our work on cellular mortality to illustrate how evolutionary theory provides an explanation for death being selected as one of the potential cell fates. Using our hypothesis for why some
microbes in a community choose death as their fate, we suggest that some insights in cell fate theory are
inaccessible to a theoretical framework that focuses solely on proximate causes

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Ramsey, Grantgrant@theramseylab.org0000-0002-8712-5521
Keywords: Cell Fate, Programmed Cell Death, Black Queen Hypothesis, Proximate Causes, Ultimate Causes, Neoplasia
Depositing User: Dr. Grant Ramsey
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2024 03:09
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 03:09
Item ID: 22906
Journal or Publication Title: Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine
Publisher: PubMed Central
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Date: December 2023
Page Range: pp. 565-568
Volume: 96
Number: 4

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