Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Protein that triggers plant cell division revealed by researchers

15.06.2009
From the valves in a human heart to the quills on a porcupine to the petals on a summer lily, the living world is as varied as it is vast. For this to be possible, the cells that make up these living things must be just as varied.

Parent cells must be able to divide in ways that create daughter cells that are different from each other, a process called asymmetric division. Scientists know how this happens in animals, but the process in plants has been a mystery.

Now Stanford biologists have found a plant protein that appears to play a key role in this type of cell division. The presence of the protein, called BASL, is vital to asymmetric cell division. In plant cells where it was absent, the cells did not divide.

"This is crucial information if we really want to understand plants' unique ways of making the different types of cells in their bodies," said Dominique Bergmann, an assistant professor of biology.

Bergmann, along with Juan Dong, a postdoctoral researcher, and Cora MacAlister, a doctoral candidate, both in the Biology Department, tracked BASL in epidermal cells of Arabidopsis, a small plant used for genetic studies. The epidermis of Arabidopsis contains small pores called stomata that allow the plant to breathe and these stomata are generated by asymmetric cell divisions. The three researchers have written a paper describing their work that will be published online June 11th in the journal Cell.

"For asymmetric cell division in animals, we know many of the proteins that control the process, but plants just don't make any of those proteins," Bergmann said.

By following where in the cell BASL resides during successful asymmetric cell divisions, they have discovered that BASL behaves like many of the proteins vital for animal asymmetric cell divisions, even though BASL's structure doesn't look like any of them.

Bergmann, Dong, and MacAlister tracked BASL by adding a fluorescent tag that could be monitored under the microscope. This way, they could watch BASL as cells divided. They found that BASL behaved in some ways like proteins involved in asymmetric animal cell division--that is, they observed BASL in both the nucleus and in a small region out near the periphery in cells that were about to divide asymmetrically. After the division, only one cell inherited BASL at the cell periphery and this helped the two daughter cells become different.

What's more, it wasn't just the stomatal cells that could do this. When the instructions to make BASL were artificially put into any other cell in the plant, those cells (which normally wouldn't be able to make BASL) not only made BASL, but the protein was found in both the nucleus and a small region at the periphery. This proved that "all plant cells have within them the ability to put proteins in specialized areas," said Bergmann. This is something scientists assumed must be true because it was a necessary step for asymmetric cell division, but until now no one had been able to see it.

So why would nature invent a different protein to solve the same problem? Bergmann explained that it was not surprising to find that plants used a unique protein for their divisions because of the way their cells are built.

"The animal cell is sort of squishy and doesn't have a wall around it--it just has a membrane," said Bergmann, who pointed out that the process of plant cell division is structurally different from animal cell division. "It's like you've taken a string around the center of an animal cell and you've pinched it down ... and that works because it's flexible." Plant cells, on the other hand, have stiff cell walls and can't divide this way. "A plant cell actually has to build a new wall from the inside out in order to divide" said Bergmann.

Bergmann said that the next steps will be to understand how BASL moves from where it is made to the nucleus or out to the periphery of the cell, and what it actually does in those regions of the cell.

"What we don't know is whether cells make a bunch of BASL protein and ship half of it out the periphery and half to the nucleus and the two pools of protein never mix, or whether any one individual BASL protein molecule could 'shuttle' between being at the nucleus and being at the periphery," said Bergmann.

BASL is a valuable signpost for deciphering the workings of plant cell asymmetry, said Bergmann, adding, "Now that we can actually see a protein moved around to a very specific place in the cell, we've opened up the possibility of finding all the internal machinery that plants cells use to get it there."

Louis Bergeron | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.stanford.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>