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Tansley Review No. 77. Cell Differentiation and the Cytoskeleton in Acetabularia

Diedrik Menzel
The New Phytologist
Vol. 128, No. 3 (Nov., 1994), pp. 369-393
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the New Phytologist Trust
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2558289
Page Count: 25
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Tansley Review No. 77. Cell Differentiation and the Cytoskeleton in Acetabularia
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Abstract

In multicellular organisms, differentiation of individual cells is typically linked to the development of the whole organism. As cells acquire tissue-specific morphologies and become functionally specialized they lose in turn a number of other functions. A free living, single celled organism, however, maintains all such functions. Compartmentalization and intracellular communication are two basic principles by which expression of specialized features is achieved within a unicell. Both in turn depend on the structure and dynamics of the cytoskeleton. Giant algal unicells lend themselves as experimental models for the study of the cytoskeleton, because the cytoskeletal arrays inside these cells become equally enormous in size. Some of these organisms are large enough to be mistaken for multicellular plants, equipped with holdfast, stem and assimilatory organ. The marine green alga Acetabularia is one of these giant cells, which has already been well known to phycologists and cell biologists for several decades. The current review discusses recent progress in the study of the cytoskeleton in Acetabularia and examines classic concepts of cell morphogenesis from the perspective of cytoskeletal function.

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