causa formalis - Form Rules Matter
Our view on cells has undergone a strong change. While in the 1940ies, when biochemistry was dominating, cells were often depicted as "bags full of enzymes", the discovery of electron microscopy allowed to discover the complex inner structure of organelles and membrane compartments. This appeared a bit rigid, based on a methodology that required chemical fixation of the cells. Only the breakthrough of fluorescence and confocal microscopy from around 1990 allowed to visualise the dynamics of molecular events in living cells. Despite the extensive knowledge on the dynamic architecture in the interior of cells, molecular biology is often shaped by static images, agains caused by methodology - molecular genetics deals with genotypes that will not change during the lifetime of an organism. What is still missing, is a synthesis between molecular genetics and cell biology. Here, we want to launch a new approach demonstrating how molecular events in cells can be steered by changes of shape. Form rules matter. As model we have selected stromules. These are extensions of plastids that form mainly under stress conditions. Discovered by Schimper already at the end of the 19th century, they were forgotten later and rediscovered only in the 1990ies by means of plastid localised GFP markers. The initial idea that plastids connect into a network through stromules, was later dismissed by elegant experiments by Mathur and Schattat. The stromuli just touch other plastids, but also other organelles such as mitochondria or peroxisomes. What the function of these stromules is, has remained enigmatic. We have now picked jasmonate biosynthesis that initiates in plastids and continues in peroxisomes. We think that stromules can rechannel metabolism, such that the precursor OPDA accumulates that triggers its own, specific signal transduction. Our idea is basically that cells depending on the conditionas can render "metabolic decisions" that are then put into practice through shape changes of the plastid.