I have always wondered how cells are modified to give them a specific shape. On what specific part of a cell does gene regulation act for giving the shape ?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you interested in the specific mechanisms of cytoskeletal remodelling or simply asking what portions of the cell give a cell its shape? $\endgroup$ May 24, 2013 at 14:26

1 Answer 1


Cell shape is dictated by the cytoskeletal arrangement. There are both intrinsic and extrinsic factors that control cell shape.

Extrinsic factors consist of environmental factors such as extracellular matrix. Rho-GTPases relay the environmental signal to the cells to cause cytoskeletal rearrangement.

Intrinsic factors are basically the stable transcriptomic identity (a gene regulatory programme) which determine a cell shape. I personally don't have an idea about what genes give an intrinsic cell shape. For e.g. why does hela cell look different from HEK cell in the same type of cell culture plate under same conditions (even at low densities where there is no neighbor effect).

  • $\begingroup$ What is the meaning of Rho-GTPase , hela and HEK cell ? $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    May 28, 2013 at 1:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Rho-GTPase is a protein which relays extracellular cues to the cell and causes cytoskeletal rearrangement. HeLa and HEK are commonly used animal cell lines (check wikipedia enries on these) $\endgroup$
    May 28, 2013 at 10:43

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