Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2010 Jan;2(1):a003392. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a003392.

Cytoskeletal mechanisms for breaking cellular symmetry.

Author information

N312F Genentech Hall, UCSF School of Medicine, 600 16th Street, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.


Cytoskeletal systems are networks of polymers found in all eukaryotic and many prokaryotic cells. Their purpose is to transmit and integrate information across cellular dimensions and help turn a disorderly mob of macromolecules into a spatially organized, living cell. Information, in this context, includes physical and chemical properties relevant to cellular physiology, including: the number and activity of macromolecules, cell shape, and mechanical force. Most animal cells are 10-50 microns in diameter, whereas the macromolecules that comprise them are 10,000-fold smaller (2-20 nm). To establish long-range order over cellular length scales, individual molecules must, therefore, self-assemble into larger polymers, with lengths (0.1-20 m) comparable to the size of a cell. These polymers must then be cross-linked into organized networks that fill the cytoplasm. Such cell-spanning polymer networks enable different parts of the cytoplasm to communicate directly with each other, either by transmitting forces or by carrying cargo from one spot to another.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center