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Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2004;20:677-93.

Cellular length control systems.

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Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


The problem of organelle size control can be addressed most simply by considering cellular structures that are linear, so that their size can be defined by a single parameter: length. We compare existing studies on several linear biological structures including prokaryotic flagella and flagellar hooks, eukaryotic flagella, sarcomere thin filaments, and microvilli. In some cases, existing evidence strongly supports the idea that length control involves a molecular ruler, in which the size of the overall structure is compared with the size of an individual molecule. In other cases, length control is likely to involve a steady-state balance of assembly and disassembly, in which one or the other rate is inherently length dependent. The lessons learned from size control in linear structures should be applicable to organelles with more complex three-dimensional structures.

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