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Biochem Soc Trans. 2010 Jun;38(3):823-8. doi: 10.1042/BST0380823.

Probing cytoplasmic organization and the actin cytoskeleton of plant cells with optical tweezers.

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  • 1Laboratory of Plant Cell Biology, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, The Netherlands.


In interphase plant cells, the actin cytoskeleton is essential for intracellular transport and organization. To fully understand how the actin cytoskeleton functions as the structural basis for cytoplasmic organization, both molecular and physical aspects of the actin organization have to be considered. In the present review, we discuss literature that gives an insight into how cytoplasmic organization is achieved and in which actin-binding proteins have been identified that play a role in this process. We discuss how physical properties of the actin cytoskeleton in the cytoplasm of live plant cells, such as deformability and elasticity, can be probed by using optical tweezers. This technique allows non-invasive manipulation of cytoplasmic organization. Optical tweezers, integrated in a confocal microscope, can be used to manipulate cytoplasmic organization while studying actin dynamics. By combining this with mutant studies and drug applications, insight can be obtained about how the physical properties of the actin cytoskeleton, and thus the cytoplasmic organization, are influenced by different cellular processes.

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