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Phytochemistry. 2002 Sep;61(1):7-14.

Structure of cellulose-deficient secondary cell walls from the irx3 mutant of Arabidopsis thaliana.

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Chemistry Department, Glasgow University, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, UK.


In the Arabidopsis mutant irx3, truncation of the AtCesA7 gene encoding a xylem-specific cellulose synthase results in reduced cellulose synthesis in the affected xylem cells and collapse of mature xylem vessels. Here we describe spectroscopic experiments to determine whether any cellulose, normal or abnormal, remained in the walls of these cells and whether there were consequent effects on other cell-wall polysaccharides. Xylem cell walls from irx3 and its wild-type were prepared by anatomically specific isolation and were examined by solid-state NMR spectroscopy and FTIR microscopy. The affected cell walls of irx3 contained low levels of crystalline cellulose, probably associated with primary cell walls. There was no evidence that crystalline cellulose was replaced by less ordered glucans. From the molecular mobility of xylans and lignin it was deduced that these non-cellulosic polymers were cross-linked together in both irx3 and the wild-type. The disorder previously observed in the spatial pattern of non-cellulosic polymer deposition in the secondary walls of irx3 xylem could not be explained by any alteration in the structure or cross-linking of these polymers and may be attributed directly to the absence of cellulose microfibrils which, in the wild-type, scaffold the organisation of the other polymers into a coherent secondary cell wall.

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