Building the cell: design principles of cellular architecture

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2008 Aug;9(8):593-602. doi: 10.1038/nrm2460.


The astounding structural complexity of a cell arises from the action of a relatively small number of genes, raising the question of how this complexity is achieved. Self-organizing processes combined with simple physical constraints seem to have key roles in controlling organelle size, number, shape and position, and these factors then combine to produce the overall cell architecture. By examining how these parameters are controlled in specific cell biological examples we can identify a handful of simple design principles that seem to underlie cellular architecture and assembly.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cell Polarity / physiology
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Size
  • Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Cellular Structures / physiology
  • Cellular Structures / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Organ Specificity / physiology
  • Quantum Theory