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Control of transcription by cell size.

Wu C.Y., Rolfe P.A., Gifford D.K., Fink G.R.

Cell size increases significantly with increasing ploidy. Differences in cell size and ploidy are associated with alterations in gene expression, although no direct connection has been made between cell size and transcription. Here we show that ploidy-associated changes in gene expression reflect transcriptional adjustment to a larger cell size, implicating cellular geometry as a key parameter in gene regulation. Using RNA-seq, we identified genes whose expression was altered in a tetraploid as compared with the isogenic haploid. A significant fraction of these genes encode cell surface proteins, suggesting an effect of the enlarged cell size on the differential regulation of these genes. To test this hypothesis, we examined expression of these genes in haploid mutants that also produce enlarged size. Surprisingly, many genes differentially regulated in the tetraploid are identically regulated in the enlarged haploids, and the magnitude of change in gene expression correlates with the degree of size enlargement. These results indicate a causal relationship between cell size and transcription, with a size-sensing mechanism that alters transcription in response to size. The genes responding to cell size are enriched for those regulated by two mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, and components in those pathways were found to mediate size-dependent gene regulation. Transcriptional adjustment to enlarged cell size could underlie other cellular changes associated with polyploidy. The causal relationship between cell size and transcription suggests that cell size homeostasis serves a regulatory role in transcriptome maintenance.

PLoS Biol. 8:e1000523-e1000523(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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