Interaction between Autonomous and Microtubule Guidance Systems Controls Cellulose Synthase Trajectories.

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The organization of cellulose microfibrils is critical for the strength and growth of plant cell walls. Microtubules have been shown to play a key role in controlling microfibril organization by guiding cellulose synthase complexes [1-4]. However, cellulose synthase trajectories can be maintained when microtubules are removed by drugs, suggesting a separate guidance mechanism is also at play [1, 5, 6]. By slowing down microtubule dynamics, we reveal such a mechanism by showing that cellulose synthase complexes can interact with the trails left by other complexes, causing them to follow the trails or disappear. The stability of the trails, together with the sensitivity of their directions to cellulase treatment, indicates they most likely reflect nascent cellulose microfibrils. Over many hours, this autonomous mechanism alone can lead to a change in the dominant orientation of cellulose synthase trajectories. However, the mechanism can be overridden by the microtubule guidance system. Our findings suggest a dual guidance model, in which an autonomous system, involving interaction between cellulose synthases and microfibrils, can maintain aligned cellulose synthase trajectories, while a microtubule guidance system allows alignments to be steered by environmental and developmental cues.