Dixit Lab: Molecular Regulators Act as “Brakemen” to Transporter Proteins in Plant Cells

Fluorescence micrograph of FRA1 kinesin motors (red) moving along microtubule tracks (green) in leaf epidermal cells.

Two new publications from the lab of Ram Dixit at Washington University in St. Louis indicate how kinesin motor proteins and the microtubule tracks on which they move are regulated in plant cells. Kinesins are proteins that work as “engines” that carry material from one part of the cell to the next. As a transporter of cellular material, kinesin travels along plant microtubules to ferry cargo to where needed, but frequent movement can expend important energy and resources. Regulating molecules such as the importin IMB4 and the SPR2 protein help manage kinesin movement and the construction of microtubule “tracks” along which kinesin travels.

The team’s publication in this month’s Development Cell explores IMB4 as a binding agent holding kinesin in check, while their work published in the March 19 issue of Current Biology shows SPR2 as a regulator of microtubule growth at the minus-end. This research promises new insights into the mechanobiological functions of cell wall construction and how material is moved along scaffolding structures.

For more details about the Dixit Lab’s findings about these molecular regulators, visit The Source.