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The Relative Densities of Cytoplasm and Nuclear Compartments Are Robust against Strong Perturbation

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Guck,  Jochen
Guck Division, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;
Max-Planck-Zentrum für Physik und Medizin, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Max Planck Society;
Technische Universität Dresden;

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Citation

Kim, K., & Guck, J. (2020). The Relative Densities of Cytoplasm and Nuclear Compartments Are Robust against Strong Perturbation. Biophysical Journal, 119(10), 1946-1957. doi:10.1016/j.bpj.2020.08.044.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-CE3E-D
Abstract
The cell nucleus is a compartment in which essential processes such as gene transcription and DNA replication occur. Although the large amount of chromatin confined in the finite nuclear space could install the picture of a particularly dense organelle surrounded by less dense cytoplasm, recent studies have begun to report the opposite. However, the generality of this newly emerging, opposite picture has so far not been tested. Here, we used combined optical diffraction tomography and epi-fluorescence microscopy to systematically quantify the mass densities of cytoplasm, nucleoplasm, and nucleoli of human cell lines, challenged by various perturbations. We found that the nucleoplasm maintains a lower mass density than cytoplasm during cell cycle progression by scaling its volume to match the increase of dry mass during cell growth. At the same time, nucleoli exhibited a significantly higher mass density than the cytoplasm. Moreover, actin and microtubule depolymerization and changing chromatin condensation altered volume, shape, and dry mass of those compartments, whereas the relative distribution of mass densities was generally unchanged. Our findings suggest that the relative mass densities across membrane-bound and membraneless compartments are robustly conserved, likely by different as-of-yet unknown mechanisms, which hints at an underlying functional relevance. This surprising robustness of mass densities contributes to an increasing recognition of the importance of physico-chemical properties in determining cellular characteristics and compartments.