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Multi-scale regulation of cell branching: Modeling morphogenesis

Li, Jing, Kim, Taeyoon, Szymanski, Daniel B.
Developmental biology 2019 v.451 no.1 pp. 40-52
cell walls, finite element analysis, genetics, image analysis, microfilaments, microtubules, models, morphogenesis, plant adaptation, plant development, plant growth
Plant growth and development are driven by extended phases of irreversible cell expansion generating cells that increase in volume from 10- to 100-fold. Some specialized cell types define cortical sites that reinitiate polarized growth and generate branched cell morphology. This structural specialization of individual cells has a major importance for plant adaptation to diverse environments and practical importance in agricultural contexts. The patterns of cell shape are defined by highly integrated cytoskeletal and cell wall systems. Microtubules and actin filaments locally define the material properties of a tough outer cell wall to generate complex shapes. Forward genetics, powerful live cell imaging experiments, and computational modeling have provided insights into understanding of mechanisms of cell shape control. In particular, finite element modeling of the cell wall provides a new way to discover which cell wall heterogeneities generate complex cell shapes, and how cell shape and cell wall stress can feedback on the cytoskeleton to maintain growth patterns. This review focuses on cytoskeleton-dependent cell wall patterning during cell branching, and how combinations of multi-scale imaging experiments and computational modeling are being used to unravel systems-level control of morphogenesis.