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J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 4;277(40):36931-9. Epub 2002 Jul 26.

In vitro versus in vivo cellulose microfibrils from plant primary wall synthases: structural differences.

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  • 1Centre de Recherches sur les Macromolécules Végétales (CERMAV-UPR CNRS 5301), Joseph Fourier University of Grenoble, B.P. 53, 38041 Grenoble cedex 9, France.


Detergent extracts of microsomal fractions from suspension cultured cells of Rubus fruticosus (blackberry) were tested for their ability to synthesize in vitro sizable quantities of cellulose from UDP-glucose. Both Brij 58 and taurocholate were effective and yielded a substantial percentage of cellulose microfibrils together with (1-->3)-beta-d-glucan (callose). The taurocholate extracts, which did not require the addition of Mg(2+), were the most efficient, yielding roughly 20% of cellulose. This cellulose was characterized after callose removal by methylation analysis, electron microscopy, and electron and x-ray synchrotron diffractions; its resistance toward the acid Updegraff reagent was also evaluated. The cellulose microfibrils synthesized in vitro had the same diameter as the endogenous microfibrils isolated from primary cell walls. Both polymers diffracted as cellulose IV(I), a disorganized form of cellulose I. Besides these similarities, the in vitro microfibrils had a higher perfection and crystallinity as well as a better resistance toward the Updegraff reagent. These differences can be attributed to the mode of synthesis of the in vitro microfibrils that are able to grow independently in a neighbor-free environment, as opposed to the cellulose in the parent cell walls where new microfibrils have to interweave with the already laid polymers, with the result of a number of structural defects.

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