A BALANCING ACT: FINE TUNING THE PRODUCTION OF PLANT CELL MEMBRANESA BALANCING ACT: FINE TUNING THE PRODUCTION OF PLANT CELL MEMBRANES

15th Apr 2015

Scientists from Rothamsted Research and the University of Warwick, who are strategically funded by the BBSRC, have discovered a mechanism that allows plant cells to regulate the rate at which they produce membranes. The work is published in the journal The Plant Cell.

Membranes are the building blocks of cells, which in turn are the building blocks of life. For cells to function the quantity and composition of their membranes must be tightly regulated. Quite how plant cells achieve this feat is poorly understood. The study, using the model plant Arabidopsis, shows that plant cells control membrane production by changing the chemical composition of their membranes. This change in composition is then sensed by the plant as it seeks to maintain a condition of balance within its internal environment (called a ‘homeostatic’ mechanism) and it responds by altering the rate at which membrane is produced.

Dr Peter Eastmond, who led the research, said: “It’s extremely important for plants to maintain and adapt their cellular membrane systems in response to developmental and environmental cues. Our discovery that plant cells induce changes in the lipid composition of their membranes to control the rate at which they produce more membranes is an important step in helping us unravel how membrane production is coordinated with basic processes that demand new membrane such as cell division and expansion”.

Read the paper in The Plant Cell: PHOSPHATIDIC ACID PHOSPHOHYDROLASE Regulates Phosphatidylcholine Biosynthesis in Arabidopsis by Phosphatidic Acid-Mediated Activation of CTP:PHOSPHOCHOLINE CYTIDYLYLTRANSFERASE Activity

Article source: Rothamsted Research