Generation of spatial patterns through cell polarity switching

Sarah Robinson1, Pierre Barbier de Reuille2, Jordi Chan1, Dominique Bergmann3, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz4, Enrico Coen1
1 John Innes Centre
2 University of East Anglia
3 Stanford University
4 University of Calgary


The mechanisms that generate dynamic spatial patterns within proliferating tissues are poorly understood, largely because of difficulties in unravelling interactions between cell specification, polarity, asymmetric division, rearrangements, and growth. We address this problem for stomatal spacing in plants, which offer the simplifying advantage that cells do not rearrange. By tracking lineages and gene activities over extended periods, we show that limited stem cell behavior of stomatal precursors depends on maintenance of the SPEECHLESS (SPCH) transcription factor in single daughter cells. Modeling shows how this property can lead to observed stereotypical stomata lineages through a postmitotic polarity-switching mechanism. The model predicts the location of a polarity determinant BASL over multiple divisions, which we validate experimentally. Our results highlight the dynamic two-way interactions between stem cells and their neighborhood during developmental patterning.


Sarah Robinson, Pierre Barbier de Reuille, Jordi Chan, Dominique Bergmann, Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz, and Enrico Coen. Generation of spatial patterns through cell polarity switching. Science 333(6048), pp. 1436-1440, 2011.

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