Size control in mammalian cells involves modulation of both growth rate and cell cycle duration

Nat Commun. 2018 Aug 16;9(1):3275. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05393-0.


Despite decades of research, how mammalian cell size is controlled remains unclear because of the difficulty of directly measuring growth at the single-cell level. Here we report direct measurements of single-cell volumes over entire cell cycles on various mammalian cell lines and primary human cells. We find that, in a majority of cell types, the volume added across the cell cycle shows little or no correlation to cell birth size, a homeostatic behavior called "adder". This behavior involves modulation of G1 or S-G2 duration and modulation of growth rate. The precise combination of these mechanisms depends on the cell type and the growth condition. We have developed a mathematical framework to compare size homeostasis in datasets ranging from bacteria to mammalian cells. This reveals that a near-adder behavior is the most common type of size control and highlights the importance of growth rate modulation to size control in mammalian cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle*
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Size*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • G1 Phase
  • Mammals / metabolism*
  • Time Factors