A single heterologously expressed plant cellulose synthase isoform is sufficient for cellulose microfibril formation in vitro

Pallinti Purushotham, Sung Hyun Cho, Sara M. Díaz-Moreno, Manish Kumar, B. Tracy Nixon, Vincent Bulone, Jochen Zimmer

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67 Scopus citations


Plant cell walls are a composite material of polysaccharides, proteins, and other noncarbohydrate polymers. In the majority of plant tissues, the most abundant polysaccharide is cellulose, a linear polymer of glucose molecules. As the load-bearing component of the cell wall, individual cellulose chains are frequently bundled into micro and macrofibrils and are wrapped around the cell. Cellulose is synthesized by membrane-integrated and processive glycosyltransferases that polymerize UDP-activated glucose and secrete the nascent polymer through a channel formed by their own transmembrane regions. Plants express several different cellulose synthase isoforms during primary and secondary cell wall formation; however, so far, none has been functionally reconstituted in vitro for detailed biochemical analyses. Here we report the heterologous expression, purification, and functional reconstitution of Populus tremula x tremuloides CesA8 (PttCesA8), implicated in secondary cell wall formation. The recombinant enzyme polymerizes UDP-activated glucose to cellulose, as determined by enzyme degradation, permethylation glycosyl linkage analysis, electron microscopy, and mutagenesis studies. Catalytic activity is dependent on the presence of a lipid bilayer environment and divalent manganese cations. Further, electron microscopy analyses reveal that PttCesA8 produces cellulose fibers several micrometers long that occasionally are capped by globular particles, likely representing PttCesA8 complexes. Deletion of the enzyme's N-terminal RING-finger domain almost completely abolishes fiber formation but not cellulose biosynthetic activity. Our results demonstrate that reconstituted PttCesA8 is not only sufficient for cellulose biosynthesis in vitro but also suffices to bundle individual glucan chains into cellulose microfibrils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11360-11365
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 4 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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