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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2010 Jan;2(1):a003392. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a003392.

Cytoskeletal mechanisms for breaking cellular symmetry.

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1
N312F Genentech Hall, UCSF School of Medicine, 600 16th Street, San Francisco, California 94158, USA. dyche@mullinslab.ucsf.edu

Abstract

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.

PMID:
20182610
PMCID:
PMC2827899
DOI:
10.1101/cshperspect.a003392
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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