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New Phytol. 2007;176(1):7-21.

Sentinels at the wall: cell wall receptors and sensors.

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Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, 25 Willcocks St, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3B2 Canada.


The emerging view of the plant cell wall is of a dynamic and responsive structure that exists as part of a continuum with the plasma membrane and cytoskeleton. This continuum must be responsive and adaptable to normal processes of growth as well as to stresses such as wounding, attack from pathogens and mechanical stimuli. Cell expansion involving wall loosening, deposition of new materials, and subsequent rigidification must be tightly regulated to allow the maintenance of cell wall integrity and co-ordination of development. Similarly, sensing and feedback are necessary for the plant to respond to mechanical stress or pathogen attack. Currently, understanding of the sensing and feedback mechanisms utilized by plants to regulate these processes is limited, although we can learn from yeast, where the signalling pathways have been more clearly defined. Plant cell walls possess a unique and complicated structure, but it is the protein components of the wall that are likely to play a crucial role at the forefront of perception, and these are likely to include a variety of sensor and receptor systems. Recent plant research has yielded a number of interesting candidates for cell wall sensors and receptors, and we are beginning to understand the role that they may play in this crucial aspect of plant biology.

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