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Plant Cell. 2002 Sep;14(9):2071-83.

Plasmodesma-mediated selective protein traffic between "symplasmically isolated" cells probed by a viral movement protein.

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Department of Plant Biology and Plant Biotechnology Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio 43210, USA.


Intercellular communication is essential for differentiation and development. In plants, plasmodesmata (PD) form cytoplasmic channels for direct communication. During plant development, programmed reduction in PD number and transport capacity creates the so-called symplasmic domains. Small fluorescent dyes and ions can diffuse among cells within a domain but not across domain boundaries. Such symplasmic isolation is thought to allow groups of cells to differentiate and develop into tissues with distinct structures and functions. Whether or how "symplasmically isolated" cells communicate with one another is poorly understood. One well-documented symplasmic domain is the sieve element-companion cell (SE-CC) complex in the phloem tissue. We report here that, when produced in the CC of transgenic tobacco, the 3a movement protein (3a MP) of Cucumber mosaic virus fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP) can traffic out of the SE-CC complex via PD. The extent of 3a MP:GFP traffic across the boundary between vascular and nonvascular tissues depends on organ type and developmental stage. Our findings provide experimental evidence that endogenous machinery exists for protein traffic between the symplasmically isolated SE-CC complex and neighboring cells. We suggest that PD-mediated traffic of selected macromolecules can be a mechanism for symplasmically isolated cells to communicate with one another.

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