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Curr Biol. 2011 Feb 22;21(4):338-43. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.01.036.

PIN polarity maintenance by the cell wall in Arabidopsis.

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Department of Plant Systems Biology, Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie, 9052 Gent, Belgium.


A central question in developmental biology concerns the mechanism of generation and maintenance of cell polarity, because these processes are essential for many cellular functions and multicellular development. In plants, cell polarity has an additional role in mediating directional transport of the plant hormone auxin that is crucial for multiple developmental processes. In addition, plant cells have a complex extracellular matrix, the cell wall, whose role in regulating cellular processes, including cell polarity, is unexplored. We have found that polar distribution of PIN auxin transporters in plant cells is maintained by connections between polar domains at the plasma membrane and the cell wall. Genetic and pharmacological interference with cellulose, the major component of the cell wall, or mechanical interference with the cell wall disrupts these connections and leads to increased lateral diffusion and loss of polar distribution of PIN transporters for the phytohormone auxin. Our results reveal a plant-specific mechanism for cell polarity maintenance and provide a conceptual framework for modulating cell polarity and plant development via endogenous and environmental manipulations of the cellulose-based extracellular matrix.

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