Indexed on: 12 Sep '17Published on: 12 Sep '17Published in: Current Biology
Although it has long been clear that cells actively regulate their size, the molecular mechanisms underlying this regulation have remained poorly understood. In budding yeast, cell size primarily modulates the duration of the cell-division cycle by controlling the G1/S transition known as Start. We have recently shown that the rate of progression through Start increases with cell size, because cell growth dilutes the cell-cycle inhibitor Whi5 in G1. Recent phenomenological studies in yeast and bacteria have shown that these cells add an approximately constant volume during each complete cell cycle, independent of their size at birth. These results seem to be in conflict, as the phenomenological studies suggest that cells measure the amount they grow, rather than their size, and that size control acts over the whole cell cycle, rather than specifically in G1. Here, we propose an integrated model that unifies the adder phenomenology with the molecular mechanism of G1/S cell-size control. We use single-cell microscopy to parameterize a full cell-cycle model based on independent control of pre- and post-Start cell-cycle periods. We find that our model predicts the size-independent amount of cell growth during the full cell cycle. This suggests that the adder phenomenon is an emergent property of the independent regulation of pre- and post-Start cell-cycle periods rather than the consequence of an underlying molecular mechanism measuring a fixed amount of growth.