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Cellulose synthesis in higher plants.

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Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution, and Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA.


Cellulose microfibrils play essential roles in the organization of plant cell walls, thereby allowing a growth habit based on turgor. The fibrils are made by 30 nm diameter plasma membrane complexes composed of approximately 36 subunits representing at least three types of related CESA proteins. The complexes assemble in the Golgi, where they are inactive, and move to the plasma membrane, where they become activated. The complexes move through the plasma membrane during cellulose synthesis in directions that coincide with the orientation of microtubules. Recent, simultaneous, live-cell imaging of cellulose synthase and microtubules indicates that the microtubules exert a direct influence on the orientation of cellulose deposition. Genetic studies in Arabidopsis have identified a number of genes that contribute to the overall process of cellulose synthesis, but the role of these proteins is not yet known.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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