Plants respond rapidly and precisely to a broad spectrum of developmental, biotic and abiotic cues. In many instances, signaling cascades involved in transducing this information result in changes to the cellular architecture and cytoskeletal rearrangements. Based originally on paradigms for animal cell signaling, phospholipids have received increased scrutiny as key intermediates for transmitting information to the actin cytoskeleton. Significantly, a wealth of biochemical data for plant actin-binding proteins (ABPs) demonstrates that many of these interact with phosphoinositide lipids in vitro. Moreover, phosphatidic acid (PA) has been identified not only as an abundant structural lipid in plants, but also as an intermediary in developmental and stress signaling pathways that lead to altered actin organization. Several years ago, the heterodimeric capping protein (CP) from Arabidopsis was demonstrated to bind PA and is negatively regulated by this lipid in vitro. Whether this form of regulation occurs in cells, however, remained a mystery. A new study, that combines live-cell imaging of cytoskeletal dynamics with reverse-genetic analyses in Arabidopsis, provides compelling new evidence that CP is inhibited from binding filament ends in the presence of PA in vivo. This allows rapid actin polymerization and increases in filament abundance following stimulation and could be one key factor in the physiological responses of plant cells to environmental stimuli.
Keywords: actin; actin-binding protein; phospholipids; signal transduction.