, Volume 215, Issue 1, pp 21–34

Plasma membrane-cell wall connections: Roles in mitosis and cytokinesis revealed by plasmolysis ofTradescantia virginiana leaf epidermal cells


  • Ann L. Cleary
    • Plant Cell Biology Group, Research School of Biological SciencesAustralian National University

DOI: 10.1007/BF01280301

Cite this article as:
Cleary, A.L. Protoplasma (2001) 215: 21. doi:10.1007/BF01280301


Tradescantia virginiana leaf epidermal cells were plasmolysed by sequential treatment with 0.8 M and 0.3 M sucrose. Plasmolysis revealed adhesion of the plasma membrane to the cell wall at sites coinciding with cytoskeletal arrays involved in the polarisation of cells undergoing asymmetric divisions — cortical actin patch — and in the establishment and maintenance of the division site —preprophase band of microtubules and filamentous (F) actin. The majority of cells retained adhesions at the actin patch throughout mitosis. However, only approximately 13% of cells formed or retained attachments at the site of the preprophase band. After the breakdown of the nuclear envelope, plasmolysis had a dramatic effect on spindle orientation, cell plate formation, and the plane of cytokinesis. Spindles were rotated at abnormal angles including tilted into the plane of the epidermis. Cell plates formed but were quickly replaced by vacuole-like intercellular compartments containing no Tinopal-stainable cell wall material. This compartment usually opened to the apoplast at one side, and cytokinesis was completed by the furrow extending across the protoplast. This atypical cytokinesis was facilitated by a phragmoplast containing microtubules and F-actin. Progression of the furrow was unaffected by 25 μg of cytochalasin B per ml but inhibited by 10 μM oryzalin. Phragmoplasts were contorted and misguided and cytokinesis prolonged, indicating severe disruption to the guidance mechanisms controlling phragmoplast expansion. These results are discussed in terms of cytoskeleton-plasma membrane-cell wall connections that could be important to the localisation of plasma membrane molecules defining the cortical division site and hence providing positional information to the cytokinetic apparatus, and/or for providing an anchor for cytoplasmic F-actin necessary to generate tension on the phragmoplast and facilitate its directed, planar expansion.


CytokinesisDivision planeFilamentous actinPhragmoplastPreprophase bandPlasmolysisTradescantia virginiana



actin-depleted zone


differential interference contrast


guard mother cell




preprophase band


subsidiary mother cell

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© Springer-Verlag 2001