Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Scale Me Up

How cell size is controlled

29 April 2020

Scale Me Up

The cells in our body grow to become many different sizes, despite larger cells not having any extra copies of the genetic instructions needed to make cellular building blocks. Scientists investigated how cells scale-up production of these protein ‘blocks’ by studying fast growing yeast cells (lozenge shapes pictured). They used high-powered microscopes to track the yeast’s growth in real-time, and to explore whether changes in cell size are linked to the number of key molecules, which they labelled with fluorescence. The molecules of interest act as messengers, relaying information between the cell’s centre (nucleus), where it stores its DNA, and the “factories” that produce proteins. This relay process is critical because the DNA code, which acts as a blue-print for protein production, is vulnerable to damage, so cannot leave the nucleus. The number of messenger molecules, called RNA, was shown to increase in line with cell size and to underpin scaling.

Read more about this research from the Quantitative Gene Expression group at the MRC LMS here

Written by Deborah Oakley

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