We study how organelle size is sensed and controlled by the cell by using the budding and fission yeast vacuoles as model systems. The vacuole is a highly dynamic organelle which shows a size scaling relationship with the cell, i.e. larger cells have larger vacuoles. We are interested in how the cell maintains the vacuole at the appropriate size, and how this control impacts function.

Vacuole size control - One major goal is to determine whether there is feedback control of vacuole size. Does the cell sense the size of the vacuole? And can a cell with too large or small of a vacuole tune various pathways (e.g. membrane trafficking and inheritance) to get the vacuole back to the right size?

Functional consequences - Organelles often proliferate when demand for their function increases, and the vacuole is responsible for a number of degradative and homeostatic processes in the cell. How does the size of the vacuole affect its capacity or ability to carry out these functions? What effect does this have on overall cellular fitness or pathogenicity?


To answer these questions, we apply a number of techniques including live fluorescence microscopy; genetic, cell, and molecular biology; digital image analysis; and computational modeling.

We are a member of the Center for Cellular Construction

3-D fluorescence imaging of vacuoles

Computational analysis of vacuole shape

Vacuoles in budding yeast

Angeline Chemel