Super-resolution imaging illuminates new dynamic behaviors of cellulose synthase

Sydney G. Duncombe, Samir G. Chethan, Charles T. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Confocal imaging has shown that CELLULOSE SYNTHASE (CESA) particles move through the plasma membrane as they synthesize cellulose. However, the resolution limit of confocal microscopy circumscribes what can be discovered about these tiny biosynthetic machines. Here, we applied Structured Illumination Microscopy (SIM), which improves resolution two-fold over confocal or widefield imaging, to explore the dynamic behaviors of CESA particles in living plant cells. SIM imaging reveals that Arabidopsis thaliana CESA particles are more than twice as dense in the plasma membrane as previously estimated, helping explain the dense arrangement of cellulose observed in new wall layers. CESA particles tracked by SIM display minimal variation in velocity, suggesting coordinated control of CESA catalytic activity within single complexes and that CESA complexes might move steadily in tandem to generate larger cellulose fibrils or bundles. SIM data also reveal that CESA particles vary in their overlaps with microtubule tracks and can complete U-turns without changing speed. CESA track patterns can vary widely between neighboring cells of similar shape, implying that cellulose patterning is not the sole determinant of cellular growth anisotropy. Together, these findings highlight SIM as a powerful tool to advance CESA imaging beyond the resolution limit of conventional light microscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-286
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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