How crowded is the prokaryotic cytoplasm?

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We consider biomacromolecular crowding within the cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells as a two-phase system of ‘supercrowded’ cytogel and ‘dilute’ cytosol; we simplify and quantify this model for a coccoid cell over a wide range of biomacromolecular crowding. The key result shows that the supercrowded cytogel extends the vectorial character of the plasma membrane deeper into the cytoplasm by about 20–70 nm. We discuss useful physiological insights that this model gives into the functioning of a prokaryotic cell on the micrometer scale.

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