Crop Biotech Update

Scientists Pinpoint Protein Essential for Asymmetric Cell Division

June 18, 2009

Asymmetric cell division is a process important for the development and function of multicellular organisms. In plants, as in animals, asymmetric divisions are correlated with the production of cellular diversity and pattern. In contrast to normal cell division, asymmetric division produces to daughter cells with different properties. Scientists know how this happens in animals, but the process in plants has been a mystery.

A team of researchers from Stanford University discovered a protein in Arabidopsis that plays a vital role in asymmetric cell division. The protein, which the team called BASL, was identified in stomatal cells. By attaching a fluorescent tag on the protein, Dominique Bergmann and colleagues found that BASL behaved in some ways like the proteins involved in asymmetric animal cell division: they observed BASL in both the nucleus and in a small region out near the periphery in cells that were about to divide asymmetrically. Only one cell inherited BASL at the cell periphery and this helped the two daughter cells become different.

For more information, download the paper published by Cell at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2009.04.018