The secrets of straight growth of plant cells – NEK6 protein aligns cytoskeleton  

August 10(Thu), 2017

Associate Professor Hiroyasu Motose, Shogo Takatani (third year doctoral student), and Professor Taku Takahashi of Department of Biological Science, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama University conducted collaborative research with Assistant Professor (special appointment) Shin-ichiro Ozawa and Professor Yuichiro Takahashi of Research Institute of Interdisciplinary Science, as well as Professor Takashi Hashimoto of Nara Institute of Science and Technology to elucidate the mechanism of the straight growth of plant cells using Arabidopsis thaliana, a most popular model organism for plant genetics and cell biology. This research is published in the British multidisciplinary scientific journal “Scientific Reports” at 10 am on British time on August 10, 2017 (6 pm Japan time).

Growth direction of individual cells determines final shape of organs such as stems and roots. Thus, it is strictly controlled during plant development. Plant cell growth is directed in one direction by the alignment of the skeleton inside the cell called microtubule. However, it was unknown how microtubules would be aligned. The research group of Associate Professor Motose and his colleagues revealed the function of NIMA-related kinase 6 (NEK6), a protein necessary for the directional growth of plant cells in Arabidopsis. The research demonstrated that NEK6 aligns microtubules in an array by removing distorted or excessive microtubules, making the cells grow in a certain direction.

This study clearly demonstrates novel regulatory mechanism of microtubule organization and directional growth in plants. It will promote our understanding of plant growth mechanism at the cellular and molecular level and also provide novel methods to control plant development. Since microtubules and NEK proteins are well conserved in most organisms and participate in the essential cellular processes (e.g. cell division) and various diseases (e.g. cancers and ciliopathy), our findings shed new lights on the principles in these biological phenomena.

Article Information

DOI: 0.1038/s41598-017-08453-5

Journal: Scientific Reports

Title: Directional cell expansion requires NIMA-related kinase 6 (NEK6)-mediated cortical microtubule destabilization.

Authors: Shogo Yakatani, Shinichiro Ozawa, Noriyoshi Yagi, Takashi Hashimoto, Yuichiro Takahashi, Taku Takahashi & Hiroyasu Motose

Year of Publication: 2017


Okayama University Silicon Valley Office (OUSVO)

Contact: Mototaka Senda, Ph.D.

Phone:    (1)510-894-3067



Arabidopsis thaliana, NIMA-related kinase 6 (NEK6), Arabidopsis

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