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Plant Physiol. 1976 Aug;58(2):224-31.

Cell wall assembly in fucus zygotes: I. Characterization of the polysaccharide components.

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Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon 97331.


Fertilization triggers the assembly of a cell wall around the egg cell of three brown algae, Fucus vesiculosus, F. distichus, and F. inflatus. New polysaccharide polymers are continually being added to the cell wall during the first 24 hours of synchronous embryo development. This wall assembly involves the extracellular deposition of fibrillar material by cytoplasmic vesicles fusing with the plasma membrane. One hour after fertilization a fragmented wall can be isolated free of cytoplasm and contains equal amounts of cellulose and alginic acid with no fucose-containing polymers (fucans) present. Birefringence of the wall caused by oriented cellulose microfibrils is not detected in all zygotes until 4 hours, at which time intact cell walls can be isolated that retain the shape of the zygote. These walls have a relatively low ratio of fucose to xylose and little sulfate when compared to walls from older embryos. When extracts of walls from 4-hour zygotes are subjected to cellulose acetate electrophoresis at pH 7, a single fucan (F(1)) can be detected. By 12 hours, purified cell walls are composed of fucans containing a relatively high ratio of fucose to xylose and high levels of sulfate, and contain a second fucan (F(2)) which is electrophoretically distinct from F(1). F(2) appears to be deposited in only a localized region of the wall, that which elongates to form the rhizoid cell. Throughout wall assembly, the polyuronide block co-polymer alginic acid did not significantly vary its mannuronic (M) to guluronic (G) acid ratio (0.33-0.55) or its block distribution (MG, 54%; GG, 30%; MM, 16%). From 6 to 24 hours of embryo development, the proportion of the major polysaccharide components found in purified walls is stable. Alginic acid is the major polymer and comprises about 60% of the total wall, while cellulose and the fucans each make-up about 20% of the remainder. During the extracellular assembly of this wall, the intracellular levels of the storage glucan laminaran decreases. A membrane-bound beta-1, 3-exoglucanase is found in young zygotes which degrades laminaran to glucose. It is postulated that hydrolysis of laminaran by this glucanase accounts, at least in part, for glucose availability for wall biosynthesis and the increase in respiration triggered by fertilization. The properties and function of alginic acid, the fucans, and cellulose are discussed in relation to changes in wall structure and function during development.

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