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Paper on asymmetric cell division published in Nature Communications

Today, our paper resulting from a collaboration with Thomas Sato at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International near Osaka, Japan was published in Nature Communications. The paper studies the asymmetric division of a neural progenitor cell type, "V2" in zebrafish into its daughter cell types V2a and V2b, and shows that the cell shape prior to its division predicts what daughter cell becomes V2a and what daughter becomes V2b. This is remarkable, as the cell looses it shape prior to division division. During a sabbatical of first author Takashi Akanuma at CWI in Amsterdam, we developed a computational model of the process together with Master's student Cong Chen, then at the Computational Science Master's program of the University of Amsterdam. The model suggested that cell shape biases the distribution of DeltaC, a cell surface protein involved in the determination of the V2a and V2b differentiation, and that a trace of this distribution might be retained during mitotic rounding. The prediction was validated experimentally, and Takashi Akanuma, Thomas Sato and their colleagues also showed that they could manipulate the cell shape using laser ablation and hence control cellular decision making.