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Cell geometry

  Beyond the structural elegance of DNA and the astonishing versatility of protein machines lies a landscape of substantially uncharted dynamic complexity in the architecture of single cells. The aim of this series is to explore the mysteries of cell geometry from questions of scaling and cytoskeletal remodelling that operate at all levels of cellular life, to symmetry breaking and the adhesive interactions that lie at the heart of metazoan development. The unicellular ciliate Stentor, which is the emblem of the series, is the classical example of the complexity of which a single cell is capable, and the principles of whose organization are far from fully understood. Many fundamental questions remain to be answered. How do cells know what size they are? What are the origins of the specialized systems of membrane-bounded compartments that define eukaryotes? What is the influence of cell shape on cell division? What can pathogens tell us about the mechanisms underlying specializations of cellular architecture? What is the essential role of the centrosome? How does the remodelling of cellular architecture lead to the coherent remodelling of tissues in the developing embryo? These and many others are questions to be explored. We welcome research papers that address them.

Gillian Griffiths, Marc Kirschner, Mark Marsh, Sean Munro, Julie Theriot

  1. Review

    How and why cells grow as rods

    The rod is a ubiquitous shape adopted by walled cells from diverse organisms ranging from bacteria to fungi to plants. Although rod-like shapes are found in cells of vastly different sizes and are constructed ...

    Fred Chang and Kerwyn Casey Huang

    BMC Biology 2014 12:54

    Published on: 2 August 2014

  2. Commentary

    No strings attached: new insights into epithelial morphogenesis

    The dramatic ingression of tissue sheets that accompanies many morphogenetic processes, most notably gastrulation, has been largely attributed to contractile circum-apical actomyosin 'purse-strings' in the inf...

    Lance A Davidson

    BMC Biology 2012 10:105

    Published on: 20 December 2012

  3. Forum

    What determines cell size?

    Wallace F Marshall, Kevin D Young, Matthew Swaffer, Elizabeth Wood, Paul Nurse, Akatsuki Kimura, Joseph Frankel, John Wallingford, Virginia Walbot, Xian Qu and Adrienne HK Roeder

    BMC Biology 2012 10:101

    Published on: 14 December 2012

  4. Commentary

    The Rabs: A family at the root of metazoan evolution

    Eukaryotic cells are distinguished by their compartmentalization into membrane-enclosed organelles that exchange membranes and content in a highly ordered manner. Central in defining membrane identity are the ...

    Harald Stenmark

    BMC Biology 2012 10:68

    Published on: 8 August 2012

  5. Opinion

    Origins of cellular geometry

    Cells are highly complex and orderly machines, with defined shapes and a startling variety of internal organizations. Complex geometry is a feature of both free-living unicellular organisms and cells inside mu...

    Wallace F Marshall

    BMC Biology 2011 9:57

    Published on: 31 August 2011