Highly ordered arrays of intramembrane particles are observed in freeze-fractured plasma membranes of the green alga Micrasterias denticulata during the synthesis of the secondary cell wall. The observable architecture of the complex consists primarily of a precise hexagonal array of from 3 to 175 rosettes, consisting of 6 particles each, which fracture with the P-face. The complexes are observed at the ends of impressions of cellulose fibrils. The distance between rows of rosettes is equal to the center-to-center distance between parallel cellulose fibrils of the secondary wall. Correlation of the structure of the complex with the pattern of deposition indicates that the size of a given fibril is proportional to the number of rosettes engaged in its formation. Vesicles containing hexagonal arrays of rosettes are found in the cytoplasm and can be observed in the process of fusing with the plasma membrane, suggesting that the complexes are first assembled in the cytoplasm and then incorporated into the plasma membrane, where they become active in fibril formation. Single rosettes appear to be responsible for the synthesis of microfibrils during primary wall growth. Similar rosettes have now been detected in a green alga, in fern protonemata, and in higher plant cells. This structure, therefore, probably represents a significant component of the cellulose synthesizing mechanism in a large variety of plant cells.

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