Arabidopsis thaliana, a plant model organism for the neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton?

J Exp Bot. 2011 Jan;62(1):89-97. doi: 10.1093/jxb/erq278. Epub 2010 Sep 2.


The microtubule cytoskeleton is an important component of both neuronal cells and plant cells. While there are large differences in the function of microtubules between the two groups of organisms, for example plants coordinate the ordered deposition of cellulose through the microtubule cytoskeleton, there are also some notable similarities. It is suggested that Arabidopsis thaliana, with its superior availability of knockout lines, may be a suitable model organism for some aspects of the neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton. Some cellular processes that involve the neuronal microtubule cytoskeleton including neurotransmitter signalling and neurotrophic support may have homologous processes in plant cells. A number of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) are conserved, including katanin, EB1, CLASP, spastin, gephyrin, CRIPT, Atlastin/RHD3, and ELP3. As a demonstration of the usefulness of a plant model system for neuronal biology, an analysis of plant tubulin-binding proteins was used to show that Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2D and spinal muscular atrophy may be due to microtubule dysfunction and suggest that indeed the plant microtubule cytoskeleton may be particularly similar to that of motor neurons as both are heavily reliant upon motor proteins.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / metabolism
  • Cellulose / metabolism
  • Cytoskeleton / genetics
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Microtubules / genetics
  • Microtubules / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Cellulose