Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Superresolution microscopy reveals a dynamic picture of cell polarity maintenance during directional growth

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Science Advances  13 Nov 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 10, e1500947
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500947

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Polar (directional) cell growth, a key cellular mechanism shared among a wide range of species, relies on targeted insertion of new material at specific locations of the plasma membrane. How these cell polarity sites are stably maintained during massive membrane insertion has remained elusive. Conventional live-cell optical microscopy fails to visualize polarity site formation in the crowded cell membrane environment because of its limited resolution. We have used advanced live-cell imaging techniques to directly observe the localization, assembly, and disassembly processes of cell polarity sites with high spatiotemporal resolution in a rapidly growing filamentous fungus, Aspergillus nidulans. We show that the membrane-associated polarity site marker TeaR is transported on microtubules along with secretory vesicles and forms a protein cluster at that point of the apical membrane where the plus end of the microtubule touches. There, a small patch of membrane is added through exocytosis, and the TeaR cluster gets quickly dispersed over the membrane. There is an incessant disassembly and reassembly of polarity sites at the growth zone, and each new polarity site locus is slightly offset from preceding ones. On the basis of our imaging results and computational modeling, we propose a transient polarity model that explains how cell polarity is stably maintained during highly active directional growth.

  • polarity maintenance
  • microtubule
  • exocytosis
  • super-resolution microscopy
  • PALM
  • filamentous fungi
  • Aspergillus
  • Computational Modeling

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