Director's Seminar Series - Dr Scott Berry, The University of New South Wales

Coordinating mRNA abundance with cell size

Host: Dr Nikolay Shirokikh


Cells maintain constant concentrations of mRNAs, which requires that mRNA synthesis or mRNA degradation rates are regulated according to cell volume. Moreover, rates of mRNA synthesis and degradation are coupled, so that perturbation of one of these rates results in adaptation of the other. Our recent work using genetic screening with single-cell resolution, single-molecule RNA FISH and RNA metabolic labelling in human cells suggests that these two mechanisms converge on regulation of activity, and ultimately abundance, of RNA polymerase II. This process involves rapid feedback from nuclear mRNA concentration on transcription itself, suggesting a new model for the coordination of mRNA abundance with cell size.


Scott has a background in Theoretical Physics and Molecular Biology. He studied a PhD at the John Innes Centre in Norwich, UK, on mechanisms of epigenetic memory in plants, before moving to the University of Zurich in Switzerland as an HFSP and EMBO postdoctoral fellow. In Zurich, Scott worked on mechanisms of mRNA concentration homeostasis in mammalian cells. In 2021, Scott started his group at Single Molecule Science, the EMBL Australia node at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. His group works on quantitative regulation of gene expression at the single-cell level, primarily employing microscopy and systems biology approaches – including mathematical modelling.