April 2018: Another Brick in the Cell Wall

In an article published on April 23rd, and featured on the cover of Developmental Cell, the team Minc at Institut Jacques Monod establishes a new live imaging method to study the dynamics of cell wall assembly in living cells.

Most microbial and plant cells are encased in a stiff and thin cell wall. This structure, which is made of cross-linked sugar strands and/or proteins, is required for cell survival, and plays pivotal roles in processes such as cell growth, morphogenesis and infection. As such the cell wall which is absent from animal cells, is the prime target of antibiotics and antifungal drugs. In living cells, the cell wall is dynamically assembled during growth and division. To date, however, the dynamics of cell wall construction remain unknown, because the only method used to visualize it, is the electron microscopy of fixed samples. In an article published on April 23rd in Developmental Cell, and featured in the cover of the issue, the team Minc at IJM, in collaboration with Arezki Boudaoud at ENS Lyon, Etienne Couturier from MsC-Paris 7, and Rémi Le Borgne from the Imagoseine platform, developed the very first method to map cell wall dynamics in live and growing fission yeast cells. This method is based upon the super-resolution imaging of fluorophores on both sides of the wall, allowing to map wall thickness of typically 100-200nm with a resolution of ~20nm. This study uncovers a homeostatic correction mechanism during normal cell growth, in which a too thin cell wall is rapidly thickened and vice e versa, yielding dynamic oscillations of wall thickness at growth sites. This homeostasis is critical for survival and is coordinated by mechanosensors, which perceive mechanical strain in the wall and trigger a response through a conserved signaling cascade.

Contacts: Valeria Davì & Nicolas Minc, group Cellular Spatial Organization, tél.: + 33 (0)1 57 27 80 52

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