DNA content contributes to nuclear size control in Xenopus laevis

Mol Biol Cell. 2020 Nov 15;31(24):2703-2717. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-02-0113. Epub 2020 Sep 30.


Cells adapt to drastic changes in genome quantity during evolution and cell division by adjusting the nuclear size to exert genomic functions. However, the mechanism by which DNA content within the nucleus contributes to controlling the nuclear size remains unclear. Here, we experimentally evaluated the effects of DNA content by utilizing cell-free Xenopus egg extracts and imaging of in vivo embryos. Upon manipulation of DNA content while maintaining cytoplasmic effects constant, both plateau size and expansion speed of the nucleus correlated highly with DNA content. We also found that nuclear expansion dynamics was altered when chromatin interaction with the nuclear envelope or chromatin condensation was manipulated while maintaining DNA content constant. Furthermore, excess membrane accumulated on the nuclear surface when the DNA content was low. These results clearly demonstrate that nuclear expansion is determined not only by cytoplasmic membrane supply but also by the physical properties of chromatin, including DNA quantity and chromatin structure within the nucleus, rather than the coding sequences themselves. In controlling the dynamics of nuclear expansion, we propose that chromatin interaction with the nuclear envelope plays a role in transmitting chromatin repulsion forces to the nuclear membrane.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus Size / genetics*
  • Cell Nucleus Size / physiology
  • Chromatin / metabolism
  • Chromatin / physiology*
  • Chromosomes / genetics
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • Nuclear Envelope / physiology
  • Oocytes / metabolism
  • Ovum / physiology
  • Xenopus Proteins / genetics
  • Xenopus laevis / genetics


  • Chromatin
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • DNA