Exocyst subunit Sec6 is positioned by microtubule overlaps in the moss phragmoplast prior to cell plate membrane arrival.

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During plant cytokinesis a radially expanding membrane-enclosed cell plate is formed from fusing vesicles that compartmentalizes the cell in two. How fusion is spatially restricted to the site of cell plate formation is unknown. Aggregation of cell-plate membrane starts near regions of microtubule overlap within the bipolar phragmoplast apparatus of the moss Physcomitrella patens Since vesicle fusion generally requires coordination of vesicle tethering and subsequent fusion activity, we analyzed the subcellular localization of several subunits of the exocyst, a tethering complex active during plant cytokinesis. We found that the exocyst complex subunit Sec6 but not the Sec3 or Sec5 subunits localized to microtubule overlap regions in advance of cell plate construction in moss. Moreover, Sec6 exhibited a conserved physical interaction with an ortholog of the Sec1/Munc18 protein KEULE, an important regulator for cell-plate membrane vesicle fusion in Arabidopsis Recruitment of the P. patens protein KEULE and vesicles to the early cell plate was delayed upon Sec6 gene silencing. Our findings, thus, suggest that vesicle-vesicle fusion is, in part, enabled by a pool of exocyst subunits at microtubule overlaps, which is recruited independently of vesicle delivery.