RNA content of single cells?

Jim Owens jow at helix.nih.gov
Tue Nov 29 10:31:11 EST 1994

In article <3atfa7$bc9 at sun4.bham.ac.uk> Kai-M. Toellner,
K.M.Toellner at bham.ac.uk writes:
>Does anybody have an idea, what the mRNA content of a single cell is, a 
>human lymphocyte for example? Depending on the activation state of the 
>cell, the mRNA content will probably change. Does anybody know, 
>whether there is published anything about that somewhere?

Sambrook, Fritsch & Maniatis (2nd ed.) on page 7.2 say:

"A typical mammalian cell contains about 10^-5 ug of RNA, 80-85%
of which is rRNA (chiefly 28S, 18S and 5S).  Most of the remaining 15-20%
consists of a variety of low-molecular weight species (tRNAs, small
nuclear RNAs, etc.)...In contrast, mRNA, which makes up between 1% and 5%
of the total cellular RNA, is heterogeneous in both size ...  and

See also Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2nd edition, p531:

Mouse L cells in culture.  "Each cell contained 26pg of RNA (5X10^10
nucleotides of RNA), of which about 14% was located in the cell nucleus."
 The citation is Brandhorst and McConkey, J Mol Biol 85:451-563, 1974.

Good luck,

Jim Owens

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