A Motor-Driven Mechanism for Cell-Length Sensing

Ida Rishal, Naaman Kam, Rotem Ben-Tov Perry, Vera Shinder, Elizabeth M. C. Fisher, Giampietro Schiavo, Mike Fainzilber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Size homeostasis is fundamental in cell biology, but it is not clear how large cells such as neurons can assess their own size or length. We examined a role for molecular motors in intracellular length sensing. Computational simulations suggest that spatial information can be encoded by the frequency of an oscillating retrograde signal arising from a composite negative feedback loop between bidirectional motor-dependent signals. The model predicts that decreasing either or both anterograde or retrograde signals should increase cell length, and this prediction was confirmed upon application of siRNAs for specific kinesin and/or dynein heavy chains in adult sensory neurons. Heterozygous dynein heavy chain 1 mutant sensory neurons also exhibited increased lengths both in vitro and during embryonic development. Moreover, similar length increases were observed in mouse embryonic fibroblasts upon partial downregulation of dynein heavy chain 1. Thus, molecular motors critically influence cell-length sensing and growth control.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-616
Number of pages9
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


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