Findings

How cells stay in shape

Yale scientists have discovered how cells maintain their form, despite pressure from salt and water.

If you put a sponge in water it swells, and the same is true of cells. But take on too much water and a cell will burst. Fortunately, nature has devised a mechanism to help cells deal with the challenges of a variable environment.“If you eat a bag of salty potato chips or drink a jug of water, the cells lining your stomach will be under pressure to shrink or expand,” said Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D., chair and Sterling Professor of Genetics and professor of internal medicine (nephrology). “Cells need to rapidly change their ionic composition to compensate and avoid blowing up like balloons or shrinking like raisins, and they do this by almost instantly changing their chloride levels.”Lifton and his...

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