To gate, or not to gate: Regulatory mechanisms for intercellular protein transport and virus movement in plants

Shoko Ueki, Vitaly Citovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


Cell-to-cell signal transduction is vital for orchestrating the whole-body physiology of multi-cellular organisms, and many endogenous macromolecules, proteins, and nucleic acids function as such transported signals. In plants, many of these molecules are transported through plasmodesmata (Pd), the cell wall-spanning channel structures that interconnect plant cells. Furthermore, Pd also act as conduits for cell-to-cell movement of most plant viruses that have evolved to pirate these channels to spread the infection. Pd transport is presumed to be highly selective, and only a limited repertoire of molecules is transported through these channels. Recent studies have begun to unravel mechanisms that actively regulate the opening of the Pd channel to allow traffic. This macromolecular transport between cells comprises two consecutive steps: intracellular targeting to Pd and translocation through the channel to the adjacent cell. Here, we review the current knowledge of molecular species that are transported though Pd and the mechanisms that control this traffic. Generally, Pd traffic can occur by passive diffusion through the trans-Pd cytoplasm or through the membrane/lumen of the trans-Pd ER, or by active transport that includes protein-protein interactions. It is this latter mode of Pd transport that is involved in intercellular traffic of most signal molecules and is regulated by distinct and sometimes interdependent mechanisms, which represent the focus of this article.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)782-793
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Plant
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • Plasmodesmata
  • cell-to-cell transport
  • plant viruses
  • transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Plant Science


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