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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cortical microtubules and physical properties of cellulose microfibrils during primary cell wall formation in Arabidopsis thaliana Fujita, Miki


Growth anisotropy, in which cells grow predominantly in one direction, is common in plant cells, and an essential event for plant form and function. The direction and degree of growth anisotropy are governed by the mechanical properties of the primary cell wall. When aligned in a parallel manner, cellulose microfibrils accommodate great resistance in the direction of their alignment to expansion driven by isotropic turgor pressure. Using the Arabidopsis thaliana inflorescence stem as a model system, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) analysis demonstrated that the establishment of parallel arrangement of microfibrils is closely correlated with anisotropic cell expansion. In the novel anisotropy 1 (any1) mutant allele of the primary cellulose synthase CesA1, growth defects were correlated with random cellulose microfibril patterns in some inflorescence stem tissues. Microtubules have been considered to be the most likely candidates for controlling the orientation of cellulose microfibrils. Recent studies have indeed demonstrated a close association of the plasma membrane-localized cellulose-synthase-complexes (CSCs) that produce cellulose and cortical microtubules. Despite this close association, microtubule disruption did not cause cellulose microfibrils to lose parallel alignment in the radial and inner periclinal walls of cells in the inflorescence stem, suggesting that microtubules influence mechanical properties of cellulose microfibrils other than orientation. X-ray diffraction analysis demonstrated that cellulose crystallinity in wild-type plants declines at the growth-promoting temperature of 29°C, whereas crystallinity fails to adapt and remains high in mor1-1, the temperature-sensitive mutant whose microtubule arrays become disorganized at its restrictive temperature (29°C). This finding suggests that organized microtubules are involved in reducing cellulose crystallinity that normally accompanies increased cell expansion. Live-cell imaging of CSCs by tracking a yellow fluorescent protein (YFP)-tagged CesA6 subunit in hypocotyl cells demonstrated that dynamic and well-organized microtubules affect the velocity, the direction of movement, and the density of CSCs, suggesting that there is a close relationship between microtubules and CSCs. Together with the finding that microtubules also control the distribution of COBRA, a GPI-anchored wall protein that is essential for growth anisotropy, I discuss the variety of roles microtubules play in anisotropic growth.

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