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Spatiotemporally distinct responses to mechanical forces shape the developing seed of Arabidopsis.

EMBO Journal 2024 June 4
Organ morphogenesis depends on mechanical interactions between cells and tissues. These interactions generate forces that can be sensed by cells and affect key cellular processes. However, how mechanical forces, together with biochemical signals, contribute to the shaping of complex organs is still largely unclear. We address this question using the seed of Arabidopsis as a model system. We show that seeds first experience a phase of rapid anisotropic growth that is dependent on the response of cortical microtubule (CMT) to forces, which guide cellulose deposition according to shape-driven stresses in the outermost layer of the seed coat. However, at later stages of development, we show that seed growth is isotropic and depends on the properties of an inner layer of the seed coat that stiffens its walls in response to tension but has isotropic material properties. Finally, we show that the transition from anisotropic to isotropic growth is due to the dampening of cortical microtubule responses to shape-driven stresses. Altogether, our work supports a model in which spatiotemporally distinct mechanical responses control the shape of developing seeds in Arabidopsis.

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