The architecture of polarized cell growth: the unique status of elongating plant cells

Bioessays. 2003 Jun;25(6):569-76. doi: 10.1002/bies.10282.


Polarity is an inherent feature of almost all prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. In most eukaryotic cells, growth polarity is due to the assembly of actin-based growing domains at particular locations on the cell periphery. A contrasting scenario is that growth polarity results from the establishment of non-growing domains, which are actively maintained at opposite end-poles of the cell. This latter mode of growth is common in rod-shaped bacteria and, surprisingly, also in the majority of plant cells, which elongate along the apical-basal axes of plant organs. The available data indicate that the non-growing end-pole domains of plant cells are sites of intense endocytosis and recycling. These actin-enriched end-poles serve also as signaling platforms, allowing bidirectional exchange of diverse signals along the supracellular domains of longitudinal cell files. It is proposed that these actively remodeled end-poles of elongating plant cells remotely resemble neuronal synapses.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / metabolism
  • Cell Division
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Endocytosis
  • Microtubules / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena*
  • Plant Roots*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Actins
  • Myosins