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Plant Cell. 2006 Sep;18(9):2182-93. Epub 2006 Aug 18.

Oscillatory increases in alkalinity anticipate growth and may regulate actin dynamics in pollen tubes of lily.

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  • 1Department of Biology and Plant Biology Graduate Program, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 01003, USA.


Lily (Lilium formosanum or Lilium longiflorum) pollen tubes, microinjected with a low concentration of the pH-sensitive dye bis-carboxyethyl carboxyfluorescein dextran, show oscillating pH changes in their apical domain relative to growth. An increase in pH in the apex precedes the fastest growth velocities, whereas a decline follows growth, suggesting a possible relationship between alkalinity and cell extension. A target for pH may be the actin cytoskeleton, because the apical cortical actin fringe resides in the same region as the alkaline band in lily pollen tubes and elongation requires actin polymerization. A pH-sensitive actin binding protein, actin-depolymerizing factor (ADF), together with actin-interacting protein (AIP) localize to the cortical actin fringe region. Modifying intracellular pH leads to reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, especially in the apical domain. Acidification causes actin filament destabilization and inhibits growth by 80%. Upon complete growth inhibition, the actin fringe is the first actin cytoskeleton component to disappear. We propose that during normal growth, the pH increase in the alkaline band stimulates the fragmenting activity of ADF/AIP, which in turn generates more sites for actin polymerization. Increased actin polymerization supports faster growth rates and a proton influx, which inactivates ADF/AIP, decreases actin polymerization, and retards growth. As pH stabilizes and increases, the activity of ADF/AIP again increases, repeating the cycle of events.

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