De novo growth zone formation from fission yeast spheroplasts
Eukaryotic cells often form polarized growth zones in response to internal or external cues. To understand the establishment of growth zones with specific dimensions we used fission yeast, which grows as a rod-shaped cell of near-constant width from growth zones located at the cell tips. Removing the cell wall creates a round spheroplast with a disorganized cytoskeleton and depolarized growth proteins. As spheroplasts recover, new growth zones form that resemble normal growing cell tips in shape and width, and polarized growth resumes. Regulators of the GTPase Cdc42, which control width in exponentially growing cells, also control spheroplast growth zone width. During recovery the Cdc42 scaffold Scd2 forms a polarized patch in the rounded spheroplast, demonstrating that a growth zone protein can organize independent of cell shape. Rga4, a Cdc42 GTPase activating protein (GAP) that is excluded from cell tips, is initially distributed throughout the spheroplast membrane, but is excluded from the growth zone after a stable patch of Scd2 forms. These results provide evidence that growth zones with normal width and protein localization can form de novo through sequential organization of cellular domains, and that the size of these growth zones is genetically controlled, independent of preexisting cell shape.