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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

Recycling, clustering, and endocytosis jointly maintain PIN auxin carrier polarity at the plasma membrane

Kleine‐Vehn, Jürgen; Wabnik, Krzysztof; Martinière, Alexandre; Łangowski, Łukasz; Willig, Katrin; Naramoto, Satoshi; Leitner, Johannes; Tanaka, Hirokazu; Jakobs, Stefan; Robert, Stephanie; Luschnig, Christian; Govaerts, Willy; Hell, Stefan W.; Runions, John; Friml, Jiří


Cell polarity reflected by asymmetric distribution of proteins at the plasma membrane is a fundamental feature of unicellular and multicellular organisms. It remains conceptually unclear how cell polarity is kept in cell wall-encapsulated plant cells. We have used super-resolution and semi-quantitative live-cell imaging in combination with pharmacological, genetic, and computational approaches to reveal insights into the mechanism of cell polarity maintenance in Arabidopsis thaliana. We show that polar-competent PIN transporters for the phytohormone auxin are delivered to the center of polar domains by super-polar recycling. Within the plasma membrane, PINs are recruited into non-mobile membrane clusters and their lateral diffusion is dramatically reduced, which ensures longer polar retention. At the circumventing edges of the polar domain, spatially defined internalization of escaped cargos occurs by clathrin-dependent endocytosis. Computer simulations confirm that the combination of these processes provides a robust mechanism for polarity maintenance in plant cells. Moreover, our study suggests that the regulation of lateral diffusion and spatially defined endocytosis, but not super-polar exocytosis have primary importance for PIN polarity maintenance. Molecular Systems Biology 7: 540; published online 25 October 2011; doi:10.1038/msb.2011.72


cell polarity; membrane trafficking; modeling; systems biology; trafficking; Stimulated Emission Depletion microscopy (STED)

Published in

Molecular Systems Biology
2011, Volume: 7, article number: 540