Mechanochemical feedback mediates tissue bending required for seedling emergence
Curr Biol. 2021, 31(6):1154-1164.e3
Jonsson K, Lathe RS, Kierzkowski D, Routier-Kierzkowska AL, Hamant O, Bhalerao RP

Tissue bending is vital to plant development, as exemplified by apical hook formation during seedling emergence by bending of the hypocotyl. How tissue bending is coordinated during development remains poorly understood, especially in plants where cells are attached via rigid cell walls. Asymmetric distribution of the plant hormone auxin underlies differential cell elongation during apical hook formation. Yet the underlying mechanism remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate spatial correlation between asymmetric auxin distribution, methylesterified homogalacturonan (HG) pectin, and mechanical properties of the epidermal layer of the hypocotyl in Arabidopsis. Genetic and cell biological approaches show that this mechanochemical asymmetry is essential for differential cell elongation. We show that asymmetric auxin distribution underlies differential HG methylesterification, and conversely changes in HG methylesterification impact the auxin response domain. Our results suggest that a positive feedback loop between auxin distribution and HG methylesterification underpins asymmetric cell wall mechanochemical properties to promote tissue bending and seedling emergence.

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