Mitotic rounding influences asymmetric cell division and cardiac cell fate specification in Ciona robusta
Because multicellular organisms have many different cell types that are highly organized into functional groups, the process by which different cell types arise must be tightly regulated. In asymmetric division, cells divide to give rise to two different daughter cells. Often, asymmetric division occurs when the daughters inherit different molecules, such as when one daughter disproportionately inherits what are called cell fate determinants. One process that is crucial in the entry of cell division, or mitosis, is mitotic rounding, which is when cells geometrically round up from a flat cell shape. In my research on early cardiac development in Ciona robusta, I have shown that the biophysical processes of mitotic rounding influence the way that proteins called FGFR are asymmetrically distributed during division. This asymmetric division results in one tail muscle daughter and one cardiac daughter. Importantly, this work shows new ways in which protein is trafficked during division and how this can have implications on proper embryonic development.