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Plant cell polarity as the nexus of tissue mechanics and morphogenesis

Abstract

How reproducible body patterns emerge from the collective activity of individual cells is a key question in developmental biology. Plant cells are encaged in their walls and unable to migrate. Morphogenesis thus relies on directional cell division, by precise positioning of division planes, and anisotropic cellular growth, mediated by regulated mechanical inhomogeneity of the walls. Both processes require the prior establishment of cell polarity, marked by the formation of polar domains at the plasma membrane, in a number of developmental contexts. The establishment of cell polarity involves biochemical cues, but increasing evidence suggests that mechanical forces also play a prominent instructive role. While evidence for mutual regulation between cell polarity and tissue mechanics is emerging, the nature of this bidirectional feedback remains unclear. Here we review the role of cell polarity at the interface of tissue mechanics and morphogenesis. We also aim to integrate biochemistry-centred insights with concepts derived from physics and physical chemistry. Lastly, we propose a set of questions that will help address the fundamental nature of cell polarization and its mechanistic basis.

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Fig. 1: Mechanical forces in plant cells and tissues.
Fig. 2: Polar domains and PM heterogeneity.
Fig. 3: The link between polar protein domains and morphogenesis.
Fig. 4: Sensitivity of CMTs to tensile stress and their role in growth anisotropy.
Fig. 5: Physical control over PM organization and behaviour.
Fig. 6: The role of polar protein domains in the mechanical regulation of plant morphogenesis.

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Acknowledgements

Work on cell polarity in D.W.’s lab is supported by an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC; ‘DIRNDL’, contract number 833867) and seed funding from the inter-university alliance Utrecht/Eindhoven/Wageningen. The work of J.S. is part of the CATCH project funded by the European Research Council (ERC Consolidator Grant).

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V.G., J.S. and D.W. conceptualized the project. V.G. designed the artwork. J.S. and D.W. acquired the funding. D.W. supervised the project. V.G. wrote the original draft. J.S. and D.W. reviewed and edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Dolf Weijers.

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Peer review information Nature Plants thanks Andrew Muroyama, Dominique Bergmann and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Gorelova, V., Sprakel, J. & Weijers, D. Plant cell polarity as the nexus of tissue mechanics and morphogenesis. Nat. Plants 7, 1548–1559 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-021-01021-w

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