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Manalis Laboratory - MIT Departments of Biological and Mechanical Engineering


Monitoring Cell Growth

Biomolecular Detection image

How cells grow in size is a complex problem. Size, a defining feature of cell types, arises from the interplay between cell growth (the accumulation of biomass) and cell division (the partitioning of this biomass). Yet the relationship between cell growth and division is not well characterized, despite critical implications for understanding proliferative diseases like cancers. Fundamental questions remain to be answered. For instance, there is a long-standing disagreement as to whether metazoan cells actively monitor and control their size.

Progress in understanding cell growth and cell size control has been stifled by a lack of sufficiently precise, single-cell measurements. The suspended microchannel resonator (SMR) can resolve the mass of a mammalian cell with a precision of ~0.01%. We are interested in developing various approaches for simultaneously monitoring cell mass and fluorescence with the SMR in order to correlate molecular measurements (e.g. abundance of cell division cycle proteins or DNA) with a highly precise physiological measurement (e.g. cell mass or density). Ultimately we envision that such approaches could be used to quantify dynamical processes related to cell growth, survival, division, and response to external stimuli.

S. Son, A. Tzur, Y. Weng, P. Jorgensen, J. Kim, M.W. Kirschner, S.R. Manalis. Direct observation of mammalian cell growth and size regulation, Nature Methods (2012). Download PDF. See also MIT News. Highlight in Nature Methods.

M. Godin, F.F. Delgado, S. Son, W.H. Grover, A.K. Bryan, A. Tzur, P. Jorgensen, K. Payer, A.D. Grossman, M.W. Kirschner, S.R. Manalis. Using buoyant mass to measure the growth of single cells, Nature Methods (2010). Download PDF. See also News & Views and highlight in Nature Biotechnology.