Prestalk cells of Dictyostelium discoideum contribute cellulose to two distinct structures, the stalk tube and the stalk cell wall, during culmination. This paper demonstrates by freeze fracture electron microscopy that two distinct types of intramembrane particle aggregates, which can be characterized as cellulose microfibril terminal complexes, occur in the plasma membranes of cells synthesizing these different forms of cellulose. The same terminal complexes were observed in situ in developing culminants and in vitro in monolayer cells induced to synthesize the two types of cellulose. We propose that cessation of cell motility is associated with a change in packing and intramembrane mobility of the particle aggregates, which cause a change in the nature of the cellulose synthesized. The terminal complexes are compared to those described in other organisms and related to the previous hypothesis of two modes of cellulose synthesis in Dictyostelium.

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