Emergent geometric order: a model of cell division in the developing Drosophila wing disc

12 May 2006

Radhika Nagpal


We are interested in developing models of cell behavior to help understand what implications local cell decisions have at the multi-cellular level. Our current work is focused on the cell division process in the developing fruit fly wing imaginal disc. Based on time-lapse movies, we have developed a logical model of the local cell division process. This model led to an unexpected result - that the stochastic process of division drives the tissue, as a whole, to adopt a fixed distribution of cell shapes (polygons). This mathematically-predicted distribution is observed in organisms as diverse as fruit flies, hydra and frogs. This work suggests a simple emergent mechanism for regulating cell shape and topology during rapid proliferation, and has implications for both development and disease.

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