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Ann Bot. 2007 Jan;99(1):39-51. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

XET activity is found near sites of growth and cell elongation in bryophytes and some green algae: new insights into the evolution of primary cell wall elongation.

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Plant Physiology and Morphology, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium.



In angiosperms xyloglucan endotransglucosylase (XET)/hydrolase (XTH) is involved in reorganization of the cell wall during growth and development. The location of oligo-xyloglucan transglucosylation activity and the presence of XTH expressed sequence tags (ESTs) in the earliest diverging extant plants, i.e. in bryophytes and algae, down to the Phaeophyta was examined. The results provide information on the presence of an XET growth mechanism in bryophytes and algae and contribute to the understanding of the evolution of cell wall elongation in general.


Representatives of the different plant lineages were pressed onto an XET test paper and assayed. XET or XET-related activity was visualized as the incorporation of fluorescent signal. The Physcomitrella genome database was screened for the presence of XTHs. In addition, using the 3' RACE technique searches were made for the presence of possible XTH ESTs in the Charophyta.


XET activity was found in the three major divisions of bryophytes at sites corresponding to growing regions. In the Physcomitrella genome two putative XTH-encoding cDNA sequences were identified that contain all domains crucial for XET activity. Furthermore, XET activity was located at the sites of growth in Chara (Charophyta) and Ulva (Chlorophyta) and a putative XTH ancestral enzyme in Chara was identified. No XET activity was identified in the Rhodophyta or Phaeophyta.


XET activity was shown to be present in all major groups of green plants. These data suggest that an XET-related growth mechanism originated before the evolutionary divergence of the Chlorobionta and open new insights in the evolution of the mechanisms of primary cell wall expansion.

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