Multiple modes for gatekeeping at fungal cell-to-cell channels


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Cell-to-cell channels appear to be indispensable for successful multicellular organization and arose independently in animals, plants and fungi. Most of the fungi obtain nutrients from the environment by growing in an exploratory and invasive manner, and this ability depends on multicellular filaments known as hyphae. These cells grow by tip extension and can be divided into compartments by cell walls that typically retain a central pore that allows intercellular transport and cooperation. In the major clade of filamentous Ascomycota, integrity of this coenocytic organization is maintained by Woronin body organelles, which function as emergency patches of septal pores. In this issue of Molecular Microbiology, Bleichrodt and co-workers show that Woronin bodies can also form tight reversible associations with the pore and further link this to variation in levels of compartmental gene expression. These data define an additional modality of Woronin body-dependent gatekeeping. This commentary focuses on the implications of this work and the potential role of different modes of pore gating in controlling the growth and development of fungal tissues.