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Plant Cell. 1993 Jan;5(1):25-38.

Endoplasmic Reticulum Forms a Dynamic Continuum for Lipid Diffusion between Contiguous Soybean Root Cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824.


Intercellular communication between plant cells for low molecular weight hydrophilic molecules occurs through plasmodesmata. These tubular structures are embedded in the plant cell wall in association with the plasmalemma and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Transmission electron microscopy has provided strong evidence to support the view that both the ER and plasmalemma are structurally continuous across the wall at these sites. In experiments to be described, the technique of fluorescence redistribution after photobleaching was used to examine the lateral mobility and intercellular transport capability of a number of fluorescent lipid and phospholipid analogs. These probes were shown by confocal fluorescence microscopy to partition in either the ER or plasmalemma. Results from these measurements provide evidence for cell communication between contiguous cells for probes localized predominantly in the ER. In contrast, no detectable intercellular communication was observed for probes residing exclusively in the plasmalemma. It was of particular interest to note that when 1-acyl-2-(N-4-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-l,3-diazole)aminoacylphosphatidylcholine was utilized as a potential reporter molecule for phospholipids in the plasmalemma, it was quickly degraded to 1-acyl-2-(N-4-nitrobenzo-2-oxa-1,3-diazole)aminoacyldiglyceride (NBD-DAG), which then appeared predominantly localized to the ER and nuclear envelope. This endogenously synthesized NBD-DAG was found to be capable of transfer between cells, as was exogenously incorporated NBD-DAG. Results from these investigations provide support for the following conclusions: (1) ER, but apparently not the plasmalemma, can form dynamic communication pathways for lipids across the cell wall between connecting plant cells; (2) the plasmodesmata appear to form a barrier for lipid diffusion through the plasmalemma; and (3) lipid signaling molecules such as diacylglycerol are capable of transfer between contiguous plant cells through the ER. These observations speak to issues of plant cell autonomy for lipid synthesis and mechanisms of intercellular signaling and communication.

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