Mechanosensation Dynamically Coordinates Polar Growth and Cell Wall Assembly to Promote Cell Survival

Dev Cell. 2018 Apr 23;45(2):170-182.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.03.022.


How growing cells cope with size expansion while ensuring mechanical integrity is not known. In walled cells, such as those of microbes and plants, growth and viability are both supported by a thin and rigid encasing cell wall (CW). We deciphered the dynamic mechanisms controlling wall surface assembly during cell growth, using a sub-resolution microscopy approach to monitor CW thickness in live rod-shaped fission yeast cells. We found that polar cell growth yielded wall thinning and that thickness negatively influenced growth. Thickness at growing tips exhibited a fluctuating behavior with thickening phases followed by thinning phases, indicative of a delayed feedback promoting thickness homeostasis. This feedback was mediated by mechanosensing through the CW integrity pathway, which probes strain in the wall to adjust synthase localization and activity to surface growth. Mutants defective in thickness homeostasis lysed by rupturing the wall, demonstrating its pivotal role for walled cell survival.

Keywords: cell growth; cell mechanics; cell wall; fission yeast; growth; polarity; super-resolution imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Polarity
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Shape
  • Cell Survival
  • Cell Wall / physiology*
  • Cell Wall / ultrastructure
  • Models, Biological
  • Morphogenesis / physiology*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / physiology*
  • Schizosaccharomyces / ultrastructure
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins / metabolism*
  • Stress, Mechanical


  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins