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Mark Chan

Professor markchan
Assistant Professor
At SFSU Since: 
Office Hours: 
Sp 2017 W 10a-12p
Office Phone: 
Organelle size control in budding yeast, Cell Biology, Fluorescence microscopy, Computational imaging analysis

I study how organelle size is sensed and controlled by the cell by using the budding yeast vacuole as a model system. The vacuole is a highly dynamic organelle which shows a size scaling relationship with the cell, i.e. larger cells have larger vacuoles. I am 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?

Engineering cells - Another goal is to design cells with specific properties that will be useful for applications ranging from medicine to industry. Can we adjust the cellular environment to improve biochemistry yields? Can we make cells with specific properties like pH or organelle size?

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.


Chan, Y.-H. M., Reyes, L.*, Sohail, S. M.*, Tran, N. K.*, and Marshall, W. F. (2016). Organelle Size Scaling of the Budding Yeast Vacuole by Relative Growth and Inheritance. Current Biology 26, 1221–1228.

* undergraduate student co-authors

Chan, Y.-H. M. (2016). Growth: A Model for Establishing Cell Size and Shape. Current Biology 26, R756-R777.

Chan, Y.-H. M., and Marshall, W. F. (2014). Organelle Size Scaling of the Budding Yeast Vacuole Is Tuned by Membrane Trafficking Rates. Biophysical Journal 106, 1986–1996.

Rafelski, S. M., Viana, M. P., Zhang, Y., Chan, Y.-H. M., Thorn, K. S., Yam, P., Fung, J. C., Li, H., Costa, L. da F., and Marshall, W. F. (2012). Mitochondrial Network Size Scaling in Budding Yeast. Science 338, 822–824.

Chan, Y.-H. M., and Marshall, W. F. (2012). How Cells Know the Size of Their Organelles. Science 337, 1186–1189.

Chan, Y.-H. M., and Marshall, W. F. (2012). Threshold-free method for three-dimensional segmentation of organelles. In, pp. 822529–822529–7. Available at:

Chan, Y.-H. M., and Marshall, W. F. (2010). Scaling properties of cell and organelle size. Organogenesis 6, 88–96.