Intracellular Mass Density Increase Is Accompanying but Not Sufficient for Stiffening and Growth Arrest of Yeast Cells
Journal article, 2018
Many organisms, including yeast cells, bacteria, nematodes, and tardigrades, endure harsh environmental conditions, such as nutrient scarcity, or lack of water and energy for a remarkably long time. The rescue programs that these organisms launch upon encountering these adverse conditions include reprogramming their metabolism in order to enter a quiescent or dormant state in a controlled fashion. Reprogramming coincides with changes in the macromolecular architecture and changes in the physical and mechanical properties of the cells. However, the cellular mechanisms underlying the physical-mechanical changes remain enigmatic. Here, we induce metabolic arrest of yeast cells by lowering their intracellular pH. We then determine the differences in the intracellular mass density and stiffness of active and metabolically arrested cells using optical diffraction tomography (ODT) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). We show that an increased intracellular mass density is associated with an increase in stiffness when the growth of yeast is arrested. However, increasing the intracellular mass density alone is not sufficient for maintenance of the growth-arrested state in yeast cells. Our data suggest that the cytoplasm of metabolically arrested yeast displays characteristics of a solid. Our findings constitute a bridge between the mechanical behavior of the cytoplasm and the physical and chemical mechanisms of metabolically arrested cells with the ultimate aim of understanding dormant organisms.
atomic force microscopy
optical diffraction tomography
liquid solid transition