Mechanical Shielding
in Plant Nuclei

Goswami R, Asnacios A, Milani P, Graindorge S, Houlné G, Mutterer J, Hamant O, Chabouté M-E.



In animal cells in culture, nuclear geometry and stiffness can be affected by mechanical cues, with important consequences for chromatin status and
gene expression. This calls for additional investigation into the corresponding physiological relevance in a multicellular context and in different mechanical environments. Using the Arabidopsis root as a model system, and combining morphometry and micro-rheometry, we found that hyperosmotic stress decreases nuclear circularity and size and increases nuclear stiffness in meristematic cells. These changes were accompanied by enhanced expression of touch response genes. The nuclear response to hyperosmotic stress was rescued upon return to iso-osmotic conditions and could even lead to opposite trends upon hypo-osmotic stress. Interestingly, nuclei in a mutant impaired in the functions of the gamma-tubulin complex protein 3 (GCP3) interacting protein (GIP)/MZT1 proteins at the nuclear envelope were almost insensitive to such osmotic changes.
The gip1gip2 mutant exhibited constitutive hyperosmotic stress response with stiffer and deformed nuclei, as well as touch response gene induction.
The mutant was also resistant to lethal hyperosmotic conditions. Altogether, we unravel a stereotypical geometric, mechanical, and genetic nuclear response to hyperosmotic stress in plants. Our data also suggest that chromatin acts as a gel that stiffens in hyperosmotic conditions and that the nuclear-envelope-associated protein GIPs act as negative regulators of this response.

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