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Cells come in all sorts of sizes. How do they regulate their cell size to the point where similar cell types have a fairly mono-disperse size distribution?

Reasked from http://www.quora.com/How-Does-a-Cell-Know-Its-Size

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Of particular interest to this question might be the latest issue of Curr Biol that has a special section devoted to this topic: Curr Biol, Vol 22 Issue 9 (cell.com/current-biology/issue?pii=S0960-9822%2812%29X0009-5) –  gkadam May 10 '12 at 4:38
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up vote 16 down vote accepted

This is a question that has been the focus of study for the last century (e.g., Amodel of cell size regulation - Ycas et al, J. Theoret. Biol. (1965) 9, 444-470). Cell size regulation may be in part determined by ribosomal activity (through mTor regulation) and is a critical checkpoint in cell division.

How the cell senses its size, however, is not understood. In 2009, two reports suggested that protein gradients could be responsible for the sensing of cell size. You can read a commentary about those articles in Cell size control: governed by a spatial gradient. - Almeyda and Tyers, Dev. Cell. (2009) 17(1), 3-4:

The phenomenon of cell size homeostasis, whereby cells coordinate growth and division to maintain a uniform cell size, has been an outstanding issue in cell biology for many decades. Two recent studies in Nature in fission yeast demonstrate that a gradient of the polarity factor Pom1 is a sensor of cell length that determines the onset of Cdc2 activation and mitosis.

These articles demonstrate one way in which cells may sense their size, but most probably several other mechanisms are also in place.

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Rebecca Heald and her group at Berkeley do very interesting work looking at how organelle sizes are controlled by comparing two Xenopus species, very much related to the question here. Check out Nuclear size is regulated by importin alpha and NTF2 in Xenopus –  gkadam Mar 22 '12 at 17:30
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