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FEBS Lett. 2007 Oct 30;581(26):5094-8. Epub 2007 Oct 2.

The degree of macromolecular crowding in the cytoplasm and nucleoplasm of mammalian cells is conserved.

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Cellular Biophysics Group (BIOMS), German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.


Macromolecular crowding provides the cytoplasm and the nucleoplasm with strongly viscoelastic properties and renders the diffusion of soluble proteins in both fluids anomalous. Here, we have determined the nanoscale viscoelasticity of the cytoplasm and the nucleoplasm in different mammalian cell lines. In contrast to the cell-specific response on the macroscale the nanoscale viscoelasticity (i.e. the behavior on length scales about 100-fold smaller than the cell size) only showed minor variations between different cell types. Similarly, the associated anomalous diffusion properties varied only slightly. Our results indicate a conserved state of macromolecular crowding in both compartments for a variety of mammalian cells with the cytoplasm being somewhat more crowded than the nucleus.

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