Intrinsic Cell Polarity Coupled to Growth Axis Formation in Tobacco BY-2 Cells

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Several plant proteins are preferentially localized to one end of a cell, allowing a polarity to be assigned to the cell. These cell polarity proteins often exhibit coordinated patterns between neighboring cells, termed tissue cell polarity. Tissue cell polarity is widespread in plants and can influence how cells grow, divide, and differentiate [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. However, it is unclear whether cell polarity is established through cell-intrinsic or -extrinsic mechanisms and how polarity is coupled to growth. To address these issues, we analyzed the behavior of a tissue cell polarity protein BASL (BREAKING OF ASYMMETRY IN THE STOMATAL LINEAGE) in the simplifying context of cultured cell filaments and in protoplasts before and during regeneration. We show that BASL is polarly localized when ectopically expressed in tobacco BY-2 cell cultures. Ectopic BASL is found preferentially at the developing tips of cell filaments, likely marking a polarized molecular address. Polarity can shift during the cell cycle and is resistant to treatment with microtubule, actin or auxin transport inhibitors. BASL also exhibits polar localization in spherical protoplasts, in contrast to other polarity proteins so far tested. BASL polarity within protoplasts is dynamic and resistant to auxin transport inhibitors. As protoplasts regenerate, polarity remains dynamic in isotropically growing cells but becomes fixed in anisotropic cells and aligns with the axis of cell growth. Our findings suggest that plant cells have an intrinsic ability to polarize and that environmental or developmental cues may act by biasing the direction of this polarity and thus the orientation of anisotropic growth.