Subscaling of a cytosolic RNA binding protein governs cell size homeostasis in the multiple fission alga Chlamydomonas

Dianyi Liu, Cristina Lopez-Paz, Yubing Li, Xiaohong Zhuang, James Umen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Coordination of growth and division in eukaryotic cells is essential for populations of proliferating cells to maintain size homeostasis, but the underlying mechanisms that govern cell size have only been investigated in a few taxa. The green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (Chlamydomonas) proliferates using a multiple fission cell cycle that involves a long G1 phase followed by a rapid series of successive S and M phases (S/M) that produces 2n daughter cells. Two control points show cell-size dependence: the Commitment control point in mid-G1 phase requires the attainment of a minimum size to enable at least one mitotic division during S/M, and the S/M control point where mother cell size governs cell division number (n), ensuring that daughter distributions are uniform. tny1 mutants pass Commitment at a smaller size than wild type and undergo extra divisions during S/M phase to produce small daughters, indicating that TNY1 functions to inhibit size-dependent cell cycle progression. TNY1 encodes a cytosolic hnRNP A-related RNA binding protein and is produced once per cell cycle during S/M phase where it is apportioned to daughter cells, and then remains at constant absolute abundance as cells grow, a property known as subscaling. Altering the dosage of TNY1 in heterozygous diploids or through mis-expression increased Commitment cell size and daughter cell size, indicating that TNY1 is a limiting factor for both size control points. Epistasis placed TNY1 function upstream of the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor complex (RBC) and one of its regulators, Cyclin-Dependent Kinase G1 (CDKG1). Moreover, CDKG1 protein and mRNA were found to over-accumulate in tny1 cells suggesting that CDKG1 may be a direct target of repression by TNY1. Our data expand the potential roles of subscaling proteins outside the nucleus and imply a control mechanism that ties TNY1 accumulation to pre-division mother cell size.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1010503
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 18 2024


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