Gravity responses in plants often involve spatial and temporal changes in cell growth, which is regulated primarily by controlling the ability of the cell wall to extend. The wall is thought to be a cellulose-hemicellulose network embedded in a hydrated matrix of complex polysaccharides and a small amount of structural protein. The wall extends by a form of polymer creep, which is mediated by expansins, a novel group of wall-loosening proteins. Expansins were discovered during a molecular dissection of the "acid growth" behavior of cell walls. Expansin alters the rheology of plant walls in profound ways, yet its molecular mechanism of action is still uncertain. It lacks detectable hydrolytic activity against the major components of the wall, but it is able to disrupt noncovalent adhesion between wall polysaccharides. The discovery of a second family of expansins (beta-expansins) sheds light on the biological role of a major group of pollen allergens and implies that expansins have evolved for diverse developmental functions. Finally, the contribution of other processes to wall extensibility is briefly summarized.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Gravitational and space biology bulletin : publication of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology|
|State||Published - 1998|