Date: 28 Nov 2009

Chemical Fluxes in Cellular Steady States Measured by Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy

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Genetically, identical cells adopt phenotypes that have different structures, functions, and metabolic properties. In multi-cellular organisms, for example, tissue-specific phenotypes distinguish muscle cells, liver cells, fibroblasts, and blood cells that differ in biochemical functions, geometric forms, and interactions with extracellular environments. Tissue-specific cells usually have different metabolic functions such as synthesis of distinct spectra of secreted proteins, e.g., by liver or pancreatic cells, or of structural proteins, e.g., muscle vs. epithelial cells. But more importantly, a phenotype should include a dynamic aspect: different phenotypes can have distinctly different dynamic functions such as contraction of muscle cells and locomotion of leukocytes. The phenotypes of differentiated tissue cells are typically stable, but they can respond to changes in external conditions, e.g., as in the hypertrophy of muscle cells in response to extra load [1] or the phenotypic shift of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts as part of the wound healing response [2]. Cells pass through sequences of phenotypes during development and also undergo malignant phenotypic transformations as occur in cancer and heart disease.