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MIT: New cell measurement system
Date:4/11/2010

they did not obtain conclusive evidence for E. coli. That's because there is so much variation between individual cell growth rates in E. coli, even for cells of similar mass, says Francisco Delgado, a grad student in Manalis' lab and co-lead author of the paper.

If cells do grow exponentially, it means there must be some kind of mechanism to control that growth. Otherwise, when cells divide into two slightly different-sized daughter cells, as they often do, the larger cell in each generation would always grow faster than the smaller cell, leading to inconsistent cell sizes.

"If there were no control over the process, the variation in cell size would be all over the map," says Marc Kirschner, professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School and an author of the paper. However, biologists don't know yet how that control mechanism might work.

Next steps: In their current studies, the researchers are tagging proteins inside the cell with fluorescent molecules that reveal what stage of the cell cycle the cell is in, allowing them to correlate cell size with cell cycle position. They are also working on a way to add chemicals such as nutrients, antibiotics and cancer drugs to the fluid inside the microchannel, so they can study how those substances affect growth rates.


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Contact: Jennifer Hirsch
jfhirsch@mit.edu
617-253-1682
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

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