A plausible mechanism for longitudinal lock-in of the plant cortical microtubule array after light-induced reorientation
The light-induced reorientation of the cortical microtubule array in dark-grown Arabidopsis thaliana hypocotyl cells is a striking example of the dynamical plasticity of the microtubule cytoskeleton. A consensus model, based on katanin-mediated severing at microtubule crossovers, has been developed that successfully describes the onset of the observed switch between a transverse and longitudinal array orientation. However, we currently lack an understanding of why the newly populated longitudinal array direction remains stable for longer times and re-equilibration effects would tend to drive the system back to a mixed orientation state. Using both simulations and analytical calculations, we show that the assumption of a small orientation-dependent shift in microtubule dynamics is sufficient to explain the long-term lock-in of the longitudinal array orientation. Furthermore, we show that the natural alternative hypothesis that there is a selective advantage in severing longitudinal microtubules, is neither necessary nor sufficient to achieve cortical array reorientation, but is able to accelerate this process significantly.