An assay has been developed to quantitatively measure the tension and elasticity of the cytoskeleton in living plant cells. The cell optical displacement assay (CODA) uses a focused laser beam to optically trap and displace transvacuolar and cortical strands through a defined distance within the cell. Results from these experiments provide evidence for the classification of at least two rheologically distinct cytoskeletal assemblies, cortical and transvacuolar, that differ in their tension and response to both signaling molecules and reagents that perturb the cytoskeleton. It is further demonstrated that the tension of the transvacuolar strands can be significantly decreased by the addition of either linoleic acid, 1,2 dioctanoyl-sn-glycerol, or 1,3 dioctanoylglycerol. These decreases in tension could also be induced by lowering the cytoplasmic pH. In contrast, addition of Ca2+, Mg2+, or the ionophore A23187 to the cells caused a considerable increase in the tension of the transvacuolar strands. The data provides evidence that: (a) linoleic acid may be a signaling molecule in plant cells; (b) diacylglycerol functions as a signaling molecule through a protein kinase C-independent pathway mediated by PLA2; and (c) Ca2+ and pH have regulatory roles for controlling cytoskeleton tension and organization.

This content is only available as a PDF.