The question of what determines whether cells are big or small has been the focus of many studies because it is thought that such determinants underpin the coupling of cell growth with cell division. In contrast, what determines the overall pattern of how cell size is distributed within a population of wild type or mutant cells has received little attention. Knowing how cell size varies around a characteristic pattern could shed light on the processes that generate such a pattern and provide a criterion to identify its genetic basis. Here, we show that cell size values of wild type
Saccharomyces cerevisiaecells fit a gamma distribution, in haploid and diploid cells, and under different growth conditions. To identify genes that influence this pattern, we analyzed the cell size distributions of all single-gene deletion strains in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.We found that yeast strains which deviate the most from the gamma distribution are enriched for those lacking gene products functioning in gene expression, especially those in transcription or transcription-linked processes. We also show that cell size is increased in mutants carrying altered activity substitutions in Rpo21p/Rpb1, the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (Pol II). Lastly, the size distribution of cells carrying extreme altered activity Pol II substitutions deviated from the expected gamma distribution. Our results are consistent with the idea that genetic defects in widely acting transcription factors or Pol II itself compromise both cell size homeostasis and how the size of individual cells is distributed in a population.