Navigation Links
Protein that triggers plant cell division revealed by researchers
Date:6/11/2009

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."


'/>"/>

Contact: Louis Bergeron
louisb3@stanford.edu
650-725-1944
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Protein chatter linked to cancer activation
2. Scientists link fragile X tremor/ataxia syndrome to binding protein in RNA
3. Researchers identify proteins involved in new neurodegenerative syndrome
4. Low levels of key protein may indicate pancreatic cancer risk
5. Structure of 450 million year old protein reveals evolutions steps
6. Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
7. Specific brain protein required for nerve cell connections to form and function
8. NIH awards researcher $1.5 million new innovator grant for fruit-fly studies of prion proteins
9. Interacting protein theory awaits test from new neutron analysis tools
10. Depression, aging, and proteins made by a virus may all play role in heart disease
11. Census of protein architectures offers new view of history of life
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... April 15, 2016 Research ... Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  ... ) , ,The global gait biometrics market is ... during the period 2016-2020. Gait analysis ... can be used to compute factors that are ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
(Date:3/22/2016)... OTTAWA, Ontario , PROVO ... 2016 Newborn Screening Ontario (NSO), which operates ... for molecular testing, and Tute Genomics and ... process management technology respectively, today announced the launch of ... new next-generation sequencing (NGS) testing panel. ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... Parallel 6 , the leading software as ... Clinical Reach Virtual Patient Encounter CONSULT module which enables both audio and video ... trial team. , Using the CONSULT module, patients and physicians can schedule a face ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... on a range of subjects including policies, debt and investment ... Speaking at a lecture to the Canadian Economics ... the country,s inflation target, which is set by both the ... "In certain areas there needs to be frequent ... not sit down and address strategy together?" He ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS ... the launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, ... proud to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm ... Mold) microbial test has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is ... last year,” stated Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: