Important new players in secondary wall synthesis.

Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA.
Trends in Plant Science (Impact Factor: 11.81). 05/2006; 11(4):162-4. DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2006.02.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Secondary walls in wood are the most abundant biomass produced by plants. Understanding how plants make wood is not only of interest in basic plant biology but also has important implications for tree biotechnology. Three recent papers report exciting findings regarding a group of novel glycosyltransferases (GTs) involved in secondary wall synthesis. Because little is known about genes involved in the synthesis of wood polysaccharides other than cellulose, the identification of these GTs is a breakthrough in the molecular dissection of wood formation.

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    ABSTRACT: Members of glycosyltransferase protein families GT8, GT43 and GT47 are implicated in the biosynthesis of xylan in the secondary cell walls of Arabidopsis. The Arabidopsis mutant irx8 has a 60% reduction in xylan. However, over-expression of an ortholog of Arabidopsis IRX8, poplar PoGT8D, in Arabidopsis irx8 mutant could not restore xylan synthesis. The functions of tree GT8D genes remain unclear. We identified two GT8 gene homologs, PtrGT8D1 and PtrGT8D2, in Populus trichocarpa. They are the only two GT8D members and are abundantly and specifically expressed in the differentiating xylem of P. trichocarpa. PtrGT8D1 transcript abundance was >7 times that of PtrGT8D2. To elucidate the genetic function of GT8D in P. trichocarpa, the expression of PtrGT8D1 and PtrGT8D2 was simultaneously knocked down through RNAi. Four transgenic lines had 85-94% reduction in transcripts of PtrGT8D1 and PtrGT8D2, resulting in 29-36% reduction in stem wood xylan content. Xylan reduction had essentially no effect on cellulose quantity but caused an 11-25% increase in lignin. These transgenics exhibit a brittle wood phenotype, accompanied by increased vessel diameter and thinner fiber cell walls in stem xylem. Stem modulus of elasticity and modulus of rupture were reduced by 17-29% and 16-23%, respectively, and were positively correlated with xylan content but negatively correlated with lignin quantity. These results suggest that PtrGT8Ds play key roles in xylan biosynthesis in wood. Xylan may be a more important factor than lignin affecting the stiffness and fracture strength of wood.
    Tree Physiology 02/2011; 31(2):226-36. · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: With its genome sequence and other experimental attributes, Populus trichocarpa has become the model species for genomic studies of wood development. Wood is derived from secondary growth of tree stems, and begins with the development of a ring of vascular cambium in the young developing stem. The terminal region of the developing shoot provides a steep developmental gradient from primary to secondary growth that facilitates identification of genes that play specialized functions during each of these phases of growth. Using a genomic microarray representing the majority of the transcriptome, we profiled gene expression in stem segments that spanned primary to secondary growth. We found 3,016 genes that were differentially expressed during stem development (Q-value </= 0.05; >2-fold expression variation), and 15% of these genes encode proteins with no significant identities to known genes. We identified all gene family members putatively involved in secondary growth for carbohydrate active enzymes, tubulins, actins, actin depolymerizing factors, fasciclin-like AGPs, and vascular development-associated transcription factors. Almost 70% of expressed transcription factors were upregulated during the transition to secondary growth. The primary shoot elongation region of the stem contained specific carbohydrate active enzyme and expansin family members that are likely to function in primary cell wall synthesis and modification. Genes involved in plant defense and protective functions were also dominant in the primary growth region. Our results describe the global patterns of gene expression that occur during the transition from primary to secondary stem growth. We were able to identify three major patterns of gene expression and over-represented gene ontology categories during stem development. The new regulatory factors and cell wall biogenesis genes that we identified provide candidate genes for further functional characterization, as well as new tools for molecular breeding and biotechnology aimed at improvement of tree growth rate, crown form, and wood quality.
    BMC Genomics 01/2010; 11:150. · 4.40 Impact Factor


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