The growing world of expansins

Daniel J. Cosgrove, Lian Chao Li, Hyung Taeg Cho, Susanne Hoffmann-Benning, Richard C. Moore, Douglas Blecker

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

312 Scopus citations


Expansins are cell wall proteins that induce pH-dependent wall extension and stress relaxation in a characteristic and unique manner. Two families of expansins are known, named α- and β-expansins, and they comprise large multigene families whose members show diverse organ-, tissue- and cell-specific expression patterns. Other genes that bear distant sequence similarity to expansins are also represented in the sequence databases, but their biological and biochemical functions have not yet been uncovered. Expansin appears to weaken glucan-glucan binding, but its detailed mechanism of action is not well established. The biological roles of expansins are diverse, but can be related to the action of expansins to loosen cell walls, for example during cell enlargement, fruit softening, pollen tube and root hair growth, and abscission. Expansin-like proteins have also been identified in bacteria and fungi, where they may aid microbial invasion of the plant body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1436-1444
Number of pages9
JournalPlant and Cell Physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science
  • Cell Biology


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