PREPRINT (not yet peer-reviewed)
Multi range ERK responses shape the proliferative trajectory of single cells following oncogene induced senescence

Chen J, Hug C, Reyes J, Tian C, Gerosa L, Fröhlich F, Ponsioen B, Snippert HJG, Spencer SL, Jambhekar A, Sorger PK, Lahav G, bioRxiv : (2022).


Oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) is a phenomenon in which aberrant oncogene expression causes non-transformed cells to enter a non-proliferative state. Cells undergoing OIS display phenotypic heterogeneity, with some cells senescing and others remaining proliferative. The causes of the heterogeneity remain poorly understood. We studied the sources of heterogeneity in the responses of human epithelial cells to oncogenic BRAFV600E expression. We found that a narrow expression range of BRAFV600E generated a wide range of activities of its downstream effector ERK. In population-level and single cell assays, ERK activity displayed a non-monotonic relationship to proliferation, with intermediate ERK activities leading to maximal proliferation. We profiled gene expression across a range of ERK activities over time and characterized four distinct ERK response classes, which we propose act in concert to generate the unique ERK-proliferation response. Altogether, our studies mapped the input-output relationships between ERK activity and proliferation providing important insights into how heterogeneity can be generated during OIS.