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Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Discover Mechanism Regulating Direction of Plant Cell Growth

September 25, 2013

A team of scientists from the University of Manchester hs discovered an important mechanism in plant cells which regulates the direction of plant cell growth. The team demonstrated how the building of plant cell scaffolds is regulated to produce distinct shapes, allowing the plant cell to grow in particular directions. They found that a protein scaffold with the cell, called the microtubule network, dictates the organization of cellulose in the wall by forming tracks which guide its placement. Previous studies found that microtubules are organized into aligned configurations, with poorly aligned microtubules being cut away by an enzyme called katanin.

The researchers demonstrated that a protein called SPIRAL2 regulates where and when microtubule cutting occurs. Depending on the organization of microtubule required by the plant SPR2 either remains stationary preventing katanin cutting the microtubules or is constantly moving along microtubules exposing areas for katanin to cut microtubules and drive the formation of aligned microtubules. It is the first plant protein described that determine microtubule organization by regulating where and when katanin cuts microtubules.

Professor Simon Turner, who led the research team said "This study answers some important fundamental questions about cell growth and microtubule patterning, and potentially gives us the ability to predictably alter microtubule patterns."

More details about this research are available at: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=10696.