Size homeostasis in adherent cells studied by synthetic phase microscopy

Yongjin Sung, Amit Tzur, Seungeun Oh, Wonshik Choi, Victor Li, Ramachandra R. Dasari, Zahid Yaqoob, Marc W. Kirschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


The coupling of the rate of cell growth to the rate of cell division determines cell size, a defining characteristic that is central to cell function and, ultimately, to tissue architecture. The physiology of size homeostasis has fascinated generations of biologists, but the mechanism, challenged by experimental limitations, remains largely unknown. In this paper, we propose a unique optical method that can measure the dry mass of thick live cells as accurately as that for thin cells with high computational efficiency. With this technique, we quantify, with unprecedented accuracy, the asymmetry of division in lymphoblasts and epithelial cells. We can then use the Collins-Richmond model of conservation to compute the relationship between growth rate and cell mass. In attached epithelial cells, we find that due to the asymmetry in cell division and sizedependent growth rate, there is active regulation of cell size. Thus, like nonadherent cells, size homeostasis requires feedback control.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16687-16692
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct 8


  • Cell division asymmetry
  • Cell dry mass
  • Cell growth
  • Interferometry
  • Synthetic phase microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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