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Plant Signal Behav. 2012 Nov;7(11):1490-2. doi: 10.4161/psb.21777. Epub 2012 Aug 23.

Pectate chemistry links cell expansion to wall deposition in Chara corallina.

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College of Earth, Ocean and Environment (formerly Marine Studies), University of Delaware, Lewes, DE, USA.


Pectate (polygalacturonic acid) acts as a chelator to bind calcium and form cross-links that hold adjacent pectate polymers and thus plant cell walls together. When under tension from turgor pressure in the cell, the cross-links appear to distort and weaken. New pectate supplied by the cytoplasm is undistorted and removes wall calcium preferentially from the weakened bonds, loosening the wall and accelerating cell expansion. The new pectate now containing the removed calcium can bind to the wall, strengthening it and linking expansion to wall deposition. But new calcium needs to be added as well to replenish the calcium lost from the vacated wall pectate.  A recent report demonstrated that growth was disrupted if new calcium was unavailable.  The present addendum highlights this conclusion by reviewing an experiment from before the chelation chemistry was understood. Using cell wall labeling, a direct link appeared between wall expansion and wall deposition. Together, these experiments support the concept that newly supplied pectate has growth activity on its way to deposition in the wall. Growth rate is thus controlled by signals affecting the rate of pectate release. After release, the coordination of expansion and deposition arises naturally from chelation chemistry when polymers are under tension from turgor pressure.


Chara corallina; calcium; chelation; cross-links; growth; pectin; tension; turgor pressure

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