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The noncentrosomal cortical microtubules (CMTs) of plant cells self-organize into a parallel three-dimensional (3D) array that is oriented transverse to the cell elongation axis in wild-type plants and is oblique in some of the mutants that show twisted growth. To study the mechanisms of CMT array organization, we developed a 3D computer simulation model based on experimentally observed properties of CMTs. Our computer model accurately mimics transverse array organization and other fundamental properties of CMTs observed in rapidly elongating wild-type cells as well as the defective CMT phenotypes observed in the Arabidopsis mor1-1 and fra2 mutants. We found that CMT interactions, boundary conditions, and the bundling cutoff angle impact the rate and extent of CMT organization, whereas branch-form CMT nucleation did not significantly impact the rate of CMT organization but was necessary to generate polarity during CMT organization. We also found that the dynamic instability parameters from twisted growth mutants were not sufficient to generate oblique CMT arrays. Instead, we found that parameters regulating branch-form CMT nucleation and boundary conditions at the end walls are important for forming oblique CMT arrays. Together, our computer model provides new mechanistic insights into how plant CMTs self-organize into specific 3D arrangements.


Copyright © 2010 by the American Society for Cell Biology. Published in Molecular Biology of the Cell 2010 Aug 1;21(15):2674-84. DOI: 10.1091/mbc.E10-02-0136

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