Improved approaches to channel capacity estimation discover compromised GPCR signaling in diverse cancer cells

iScience. 2023 Jul 3;26(8):107270. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2023.107270. eCollection 2023 Aug 18.


Intracellular signaling orchestrates an organism's development and functioning and underlies various pathologies, such as cancer, when aberrant. A universal cell signaling characteristic is channel capacity - the measure of how much information a given transmitting system can reliably transduce. Here, we describe improved approaches to quantify GPCR signaling channel capacity in single cells, averaged across cell population. We assess the channel capacity based on distribution of residuals by the cellular response amplitude. We further develop means to handle irregularly responding cancer cells using the integral values of their response to different agonist concentrations. These approaches enabled us to analyze, for the first time, channel capacity in single cancer cells. A universal feature emerging for different cancer cell types is a decreased channel capacity of their GPCR signaling. These findings provide experimental validation to the hypothesis that cancer is an information disease, bearing importance for basic cancer biology and anticancer drug discovery.

Keywords: Cancer; Cell biology.