Auxin-dependent control of cytoskeleton and cell shape regulates divisionorientation in the Arabidopsis embryo

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Premitotic control of cell division orientation is critical for plant development, as cell walls prevent extensive cell remodeling or migration. While many divisions are proliferative and add cells to existing tissues, some divisions are formative and generate new tissue layers or growth axes. Such formative divisions are often asymmetric in nature, producing daughters with different fates. We have previously shown that, in the Arabidopsis thaliana embryo, developmental asymmetry is correlated with geometric asymmetry, creating daughter cells of unequal volume. Such divisions are generated by division planes that deviate from a default minimal surface area rule. Inhibition of auxin response leads to reversal to this default, yet the mechanisms underlying division plane choice in the embryo have been unclear. Here, we show that auxin-dependent division plane control involves alterations in cell geometry, but not in cell polarity axis or nuclear position. Through transcriptome profiling, we find that auxin regulates genes controlling cell wall and cytoskeleton properties. We confirm the involvement of microtubule (MT)-binding proteins in embryo division control. Organization of both MT and actin cytoskeleton depends on auxin response, and genetically controlled MT or actin depolymerization in embryos leads to disruption of asymmetric divisions, including reversion to the default. Our work shows how auxin-dependent control of MT and actin cytoskeleton properties interacts with cell geometry to generate asymmetric divisions during the earliest steps in plant development.