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Plant Cell. 2004 Apr;16(4):836-56. Epub 2004 Mar 12.

Electron tomographic analysis of somatic cell plate formation in meristematic cells of Arabidopsis preserved by high-pressure freezing.

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  • 1Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder 80309-0347, USA.


We have investigated the process of somatic-type cytokinesis in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) meristem cells with a three-dimensional resolution of approximately 7 nm by electron tomography of high-pressure frozen/freeze-substituted samples. Our data demonstrate that this process can be divided into four phases: phragmoplast initials, solid phragmoplast, transitional phragmoplast, and ring-shaped phragmoplast. Phragmoplast initials arise from clusters of polar microtubules (MTs) during late anaphase. At their equatorial planes, cell plate assembly sites are formed, consisting of a filamentous ribosome-excluding cell plate assembly matrix (CPAM) and Golgi-derived vesicles. The CPAM, which is found only around growing cell plate regions, is suggested to be responsible for regulating cell plate growth. Virtually all phragmoplast MTs terminate inside the CPAM. This association directs vesicles to the CPAM and thereby to the growing cell plate. Cell plate formation within the CPAM appears to be initiated by the tethering of vesicles by exocyst-like complexes. After vesicle fusion, hourglass-shaped vesicle intermediates are stretched to dumbbells by a mechanism that appears to involve the expansion of dynamin-like springs. This stretching process reduces vesicle volume by approximately 50%. At the same time, the lateral expansion of the phragmoplast initials and their CPAMs gives rise to the solid phragmoplast. Later arriving vesicles begin to fuse to the bulbous ends of the dumbbells, giving rise to the tubulo-vesicular membrane network (TVN). During the transitional phragmoplast stage, the CPAM and MTs disassemble and then reform in a peripheral ring phragmoplast configuration. This creates the centrifugally expanding peripheral cell plate growth zone, which leads to cell plate fusion with the cell wall. Simultaneously, the central TVN begins to mature into a tubular network, and ultimately into a planar fenestrated sheet (PFS), through the removal of membrane via clathrin-coated vesicles and by callose synthesis. Small secondary CPAMs with attached MTs arise de novo over remaining large fenestrae to focus local growth to these regions. When all of the fenestrae are closed, the new cell wall is complete. Few endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes are seen associated with the phragmoplast initials and with the TVN cell plate that is formed within the solid phragmoplast. ER progressively accumulates thereafter, reaching a maximum during the late PFS stage, when most cell plate growth is completed.

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