An evolutionarily conserved NIMA-related kinase directs rhizoid tip growth in the basal land plant Marchantia polymorpha

Kento Otani, Kimitsune Ishizaki, Ryuichi Nishihama, Shogo Takatani, Takayuki Kohchi, Taku Takahashi, Hiroyasu Motose

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Tip growth is driven by turgor pressure and mediated by the polarized accumulation of cellular materials. How a single polarized growth site is established and maintained is unclear. Here, we analyzed the function of NIMA-related protein kinase 1 (MpNEK1) in the liverwort Marchantia polymorpha. In the wild type, rhizoid cells differentiate from the ventral epidermis and elongate through tip growth to form hair-like protrusions. In Mpnek1 knockout mutants, rhizoids underwent frequent changes in growth direction, resulting in a twisted and/or spiral morphology. The functional MpNEK1-Citrine protein fusion localized to microtubule foci in the apical growing region of rhizoids. Mpnek1 knockouts exhibited increases in both microtubule density and bundling in the apical dome of rhizoids. Treatment with the microtubule-stabilizing drug taxol phenocopied the Mpnek1 knockout. These results suggest that MpNEK1 directs tip growth in rhizoids through microtubule organization. Furthermore, MpNEK1 expression rescued ectopic outgrowth of epidermal cells in the Arabidopsis thaliana nek6 mutant, strongly supporting an evolutionarily conserved NEK-dependent mechanism of directional growth. It is possible that such a mechanism contributed to the evolution of the early rooting system in land plants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberdev154617
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2018



  • Cell polarity
  • Marchantia polymorpha
  • NIMA-related kinase
  • Rhizoid
  • Tip growth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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