Building a proportional cell: the physics of size control

11 December 2015

Jané Kondev
Department of Physics
Brandeis University


Since the late 1800s cell experiments have revealed that the size of organelles is under cellular control. For example, spindle sizes in developing embryos scale with the size of the compartment in which they form. To explain these observations a simple mechanism has been proposed that relies on a limited pool of diffusing components; the structure grows by accumulating molecular components until the pool of these components is depleted. In this talk I will consider the limitations that physics imposes on the limited pool mechanism of size control using the example of filamentous cytoskeleton structures. In particular I will show that this mechanism is not capable of controlling the sizes of multiple identical structures. In light of these theoretical results I will discuss recent experiments on actin cables in yeast. They provide an example of how nature circumvents these limitations.

current theory lunch schedule