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J Cell Sci. 2000 Sep;113 ( Pt 17):2927-34.

Do growth and cell division rates determine cell size in multicellular organisms?

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, London W1P 8BT, UK.


Studies in yeast have provided some clues to how cell size might be determined in unicellular eukaryotes; yet little attention has been paid to this issue in multicellular organisms. Reproducible cell sizes might be achieved in the dividing cells of multicellular organisms by the coordination of growth with cell division. Recently, mutations in genes encoding homologues of components of the mammalian insulin/phosphoinositide 3-kinase signalling pathway have been shown to affect organ growth and cell size during Drosophila melanogaster imaginal disc development. The data suggest that signalling through this pathway alters cell size because it primarily affects the growth of these organs (i.e. their increase in mass) and does not have a proportional impact on cell division. These observations are in keeping with the hypothesis that growth and cell division are regulated independently, and that cell size is just a consequence of the rate at which tissues grow and the cells within them divide. However, signalling through this pathway can affect cell cycle phasing and at least influence cell division. These interactions may provide a means of coordinating growth and cell division, such that cells divide only when they are above a minimum size.

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