Evidence for an upper limit to mitotic spindle length
Entry by Andrew Capulli, AP225 Fall 2011
Martin Wuehr, Yao Chen, Sophie Dumont, Aaron Groen, Daniel J. Needleman, Adrian Salic, Timothy J. Mitchison, Evidence for an Upper Limit to Mitotic Spindle Length. Current Biology, 2008, 18, 1256-1261
All living organisms have, at the very least, one thing in common: DNA. Although relative amounts of DNA and chromosomes vary among species (bacteria have a pair of chromosomes while humans have 23 pairs and monkeys have 24 pair for example), DNA contains the coding for future life in any living organism (Note: DNA's role in transcription, translation, protein formation: see wikipedia entry on the "Central Dogma of Molecular Biology": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_dogma_of_molecular_biology). It begs the question then, how, if all species are based upon their DNA and we all have DNA, do species scale? Perhaps more clearly: why are certain species large and others small? Does cell size have anything to do with scaling? As discussed in lecture, it is often the goal of physicists to find the length scale; in the world of log-log plots, the slope of those plots is scaling and the rationalization of that slope is the true science. What Needleman et. al. begin to do is address this scaling question in terms of the human body, mitosis spindle fibers, and DNA. The question of scaling the human body as a whole may seem extreme right now, but the authors of this experimental paper have begun to break the ice on the fundamental unit of life: the cell.