High-resolution mass measurements of single budding yeast reveal linear growth segments

The regulation of cell growth has fundamental physiological, biotechnological and medical implications. However, methods that can continuously monitor individual cells at sufficient mass and time resolution hardly exist. Particularly, detecting the mass of individual microbial cells, which are much smaller than mammalian cells, remains challenging. Here, we modify a previously described cell balance (‘picobalance’) to monitor the proliferation of single cells of the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, under culture conditions in real time. Combined with optical microscopy to monitor the yeast morphology and cell cycle phase, the picobalance approaches a total mass resolution of 0.45 pg. Our results show that single budding yeast cells (S/G2/M phase) increase total mass in multiple linear segments sequentially, switching their growth rates. The growth rates weakly correlate with the cell mass of the growth segments, and the duration of each growth segment correlates negatively with cell mass. We envision that our technology will be useful for direct, accurate monitoring of the growth of single cells throughout their cycle.

Nat Commun (2022)

Andreas P. Cuny, K. Tanuj Sapra, David Martinez-Martin, Gotthold Fläschner, Jonathan D. Adams, Sascha Martin, Christoph Gerber, Fabian Rudolf and Daniel J. Müller

Abstract

The regulation of cell growth has fundamental physiological, biotechnological and medical implications. However, methods that can continuously monitor individual cells at sufficient mass and time resolution hardly exist. Particularly, detecting the mass of individual microbial cells, which are much smaller than mammalian cells, remains challenging. Here, we modify a previously described cell balance (‘picobalance’) to monitor the proliferation of single cells of the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, under culture conditions in real time. Combined with optical microscopy to monitor the yeast morphology and cell cycle phase, the picobalance approaches a total mass resolution of 0.45 pg. Our results show that single budding yeast cells (S/G2/M phase) increase total mass in multiple linear segments sequentially, switching their growth rates. The growth rates weakly correlate with the cell mass of the growth segments, and the duration of each growth segment correlates negatively with cell mass. We envision that our technology will be useful for direct, accurate monitoring of the growth of single cells throughout their cycle.

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