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Plant Cell Physiol. 2015 Feb;56(2):195-214. doi: 10.1093/pcp/pcu140. Epub 2014 Oct 7.

Secondary cell walls: biosynthesis, patterned deposition and transcriptional regulation.

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Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA


Secondary walls are mainly composed of cellulose, hemicelluloses (xylan and glucomannan) and lignin, and are deposited in some specialized cells, such as tracheary elements, fibers and other sclerenchymatous cells. Secondary walls provide strength to these cells, which lend mechanical support and protection to the plant body and, in the case of tracheary elements, enable them to function as conduits for transporting water. Formation of secondary walls is a complex process that requires the co-ordinated expression of secondary wall biosynthetic genes, biosynthesis and targeted secretion of secondary wall components, and patterned deposition and assembly of secondary walls. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of genes involved in secondary wall biosynthesis and deposition. Most of the genes involved in the biosynthesis of secondary wall components, including cellulose, xylan, glucomannan and lignin, have been identified and their co-ordinated activation has been shown to be mediated by a transcriptional network encompassing the secondary wall NAC and MYB master switches and their downstream transcription factors. It has been demonstrated that cortical microtubules and microtubule-associated proteins play important roles in the targeted secretion of cellulose synthase complexes, the oriented deposition of cellulose microfibrils and the patterned deposition of secondary walls. Further investigation of many secondary wall-associated genes with unknown functions will provide new insights into the mechanisms controlling the formation of secondary walls that constitute the bulk of plant biomass.


Cellulose; Cortical microtubule; Lignin; Microtubule-associated protein; Secondary wall; Secondary wall NAC; Xylan

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