Cellulose biosynthesis in higher plants

Krystyna Kudlicka, R. M. Brown, Jr

Abstract


Knowledge of the control and regulation of cellulose synthesis is fundamental to an understanding of plant development since cellulose is the primary structural component of plant cell walls. In vivo, the polymerization step requires a coordinated transport of substrates across membranes and relies on delicate orientations of the membrane-associated synthase complexes. Little is known about the properties of the enzyme complexes, and many questions about the biosynthesis of cell wall components at the cell surface still remain unanswered. Attempts to purify cellulose synthase from higher plants have not been successful because of the liability of enzymes upon isolation and lack of reliable in vitro assays. Membrane preparations from higher plant cells incorporate UDP-glucose into a glucan polymer, but this invariably turns out to be predominantly β -1,3-linked rather than β -1,4-linked glucans. Various hypotheses have been advanced to explain this phenomenon. One idea is that callose and cellulose-synthase systems are the same, but cell disruption activates callose synthesis preferentially. A second concept suggests that a regulatory protein as a part of the cellulose-synthase complex is rapidly degraded upon cell disruption. With new methods of enzyme isolation and analysis of the in vitro product, recent advances have been made in the isolation of an active synthase from the plasma membrane whereby cellulose synthase was separated from callose synthase.

Keywords


glucan chains; microfibrils; β-1,4-glucan (cellulose); β-1,3-glucan (callose); cellulose synthase; callose synthase; enzyme complex

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