University of Pittsburgh
Multigenerational memory in cell size control
Abstract: Cells maintain a stable size as they grow and divide. Most experiments suggest that deviations from the stable size last for only a generation or two. However, recent evidence from comparing sister lineages suggests that deviations can persist for many generations. Here we develop a minimal model that explains these seemingly contradictory results. Our model proposes that different environments result in different control parameters, leading to distinct inheritance patterns. Multigenerational memory is revealed in constant environments but obscured when averaging over many different environments. Inferring the parameters of our model from bacterial size data in microfluidic experiments, we recapitulate observed statistics of homeostasis and phenotypic inheritance. Our work elucidates the impact of the environment on cell homeostasis.
Biosketch: Andrew Mugler received his BS in Physics at Harvey Mudd College in 2004, received his PhD in Physics at Columbia University in 2010, held postdoctoral positions at AMOLF Institute and Emory University, and began his Physics faculty position at Purdue University before moving to the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on deriving physical limits to biological precision and discovering physical laws for collective biological phenomena. He has worked in collaboration with many experimental groups, including biologists, physicists, chemists, and engineers. He was named a Simons Investigator in the Mathematical Modeling of Living Systems (2015) and is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award (2021).