Plasmodesmata: composition, structure and trafficking

  • Bernard L. Epel


Plasmodesmata are highly specialized gatable trans-wall channels that interconnect contiguous cells and function in direct cytoplasm-to-cytoplasm intercellular transport. Computer-enhanced digital imaging analysis of electron micrographs of plasmodesmata has provided new information on plasmodesmatal fine structure. It is now becoming clear that plasmodesmata are dynamic quasi-organelles whose conductivity can be regulated by environmental and developmental signals. New findings suggest that signalling mechanisms exist which allow the plasmodesmatal pore to dilate to allow macromolecular transport. Plant viruses spread from cell to cell via plasmodesmata. Two distinct movement mechanisms have been elucidated. One movement mechanism involves the movement of the complete virus particle along virus-induced tubular structures within a modified plasmodesma. Apparently two virus-coded movement proteins are involved. A second movement mechanism involves the movement of a non-virion form through existing plasmodesmata. In this mechanism, the viral movement protein causes a rapid dilation of existing plasmodesmata to facilitate protein and nucleic acid movement. Techniques for the isolation of plasmodesmata have been developed and information on plasmodesma-associated proteins is now becoming available. New evidence is reviewed which suggests that plasmodesmatal composition and regulation may differ in different cells and tissues.

Key words

conductivity movement plasmodesmata size exclusion limit proteins viruses 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard L. Epel
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Botany DepartmentTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  2. 2.George S. Wise Faculty of Life SciencesTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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