Mitotic chromosome length scales in response to both cell and nuclear size. Academic Article uri icon


  • Multicellular development requires that cells reduce in size as a result of consecutive cell divisions without increase in embryo volume. To maintain cellular integrity, organelle size adapts to cell size throughout development. During mitosis, the longest chromosome arm must be shorter than half of the mitotic spindle for proper chromosome segregation. Using high-resolution time-lapse microscopy of living Caenorhabditis elegans embryos, we have quantified the relation between cell size and chromosome length. In control embryos, chromosome length scaled to cell size. Artificial reduction of cell size resulted in a shortening of chromosome length, following a trend predicted by measurements from control embryos. Disturbing the RAN (Ras-related nuclear protein)-GTP gradient decoupled nuclear size from cell size and resulted in chromosome scaling to nuclear size rather than cell size; smaller nuclei contained shorter chromosomes independent of cell size. In sum, quantitative analysis relating cell, nuclear, and chromosome size predicts two levels of chromosome length regulation: one through cell size and a second in response to nuclear size.

publication date

  • June 8, 2015