, Volume 196, Issue 3, pp 155-166

First online:

Caffeine inhibition of cytokinesis: effect on the phragmoplast cytoskeleton in livingTradescantia stamen hair cells

  • A. H. ValsterAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Morrill Science Center III, University of Massachusetts
  • , P. K. HeplerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Morrill Science Center III, University of Massachusetts

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The distribution of microtubules and actin microfilaments during caffeine-induced inhibition of cell plate formation has been studied in livingTradescantia stamen hair cells. Previous studies have shown that caffeine allows cell plate initiation but prevents its completion, resulting in binucleate cells. In the present study, confocal microscopy of cells microinjected with fluorescent brain tubulin or phalloidin, and cultured in the presence 5 mM caffeine, revealed that the initiation and early lateral expansion phase of the phragmoplast occur normally. However, caffeine completely inhibits the formation of the cytoskeletal torus which occurs in untreated cells during the late stages of cell plate and phragmoplast expansion. Caffeine further causes the disintegration of the incomplete cell plate. The results allow us to distinguish two phases in cell plate and phragmoplast growth: the initiation and early expansion phase, which is not affected by caffeine, and the late lateral expansion phase, which is completely inhibited in the presence of caffeine. Also in this study, the use of a high phalloidin concentration has revealed structural detail about the actin microfilaments involved in cell plate formation: microfilaments are observed that link the expanding edge of the phragmoplast with the cortical division site. In addition, cortical actin patches are observed within the actin depleted zone that might play a role in guidance of phragmoplast and cell plate expansion.


Caffeine Cytokinesis Cytoskeleton Microinjection Phragmoplast