Morphogenesis of Macro-Algae Team


Le Bail A, Billoud B, Le Panse S, Chenivesse S, Charrier B

Brown algae are multicellular marine organisms evolutionarily distant from both metazoans and land plants. The molecular or cellular mechanisms that govern the developmental patterning in brown algae are poorly characterized. Here, we report the first morphogenetic mutant, étoile (etl), produced in the brown algal model Ectocarpus siliculosus. Genetic, cellular, and morphometric analyses showed that a single recessive locus, ETL, regulates cell differentiation: etl cells display thickening of the extracellular matrix (ECM), and the elongated, apical, and actively dividing E cells are underrepresented. As a result of this defect, the overrepresentation of round, branch-initiating R cells in the etl mutant leads to the rapid induction of the branching process at the expense of the uniaxial growth in the primary filament. Computational modeling allowed the simulation of the etl mutant phenotype by including a modified response to the neighborhood information in the division rules used to specify wild-type development. Microarray experiments supported the hypothesis of a defect in cell-cell communication, as primarily Lin-Notch-domain transmembrane proteins, which share similarities with metazoan Notch proteins involved in binary cell differentiation were repressed in etl. Thus, our study highlights the role of the ECM and of novel transmembrane proteins in cell-cell communication during the establishment of the developmental pattern in this brown alga.

The Plant Cell
23(4): 1666-1678, doi:10.1105/tpc.110.081919
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