Solid-state NMR investigations of cellulose structure and interactions with matrix polysaccharides in plant primary cell walls

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© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Experimental Biology. Until recently, the 3D architecture of plant cell walls was poorly understood due to the lack of high-resolution techniques for characterizing the molecular structure, dynamics, and intermolecular interactions of the wall polysaccharides in these insoluble biomolecular mixtures. We introduced multidimensional solid-state NMR (SSNMR) spectroscopy, coupled with 13C labelling of whole plants, to determine the spatial arrangements of macromolecules in near-native plant cell walls. Here we review key evidence from 2D and 3D correlation NMR spectra that show relatively few cellulose-hemicellulose cross peaks but many cellulose-pectin cross peaks, indicating that cellulose microfibrils are not extensively coated by hemicellulose and all three major polysaccharides exist in a single network rather than two separate networks as previously proposed. The number of glucan chains in the primary-wall cellulose microfibrils has been under active debate recently. We show detailed analysis of quantitative 13C SSNMR spectra of cellulose in various wild-type (WT) and mutant Arabidopsis and Brachypodium primary cell walls, which consistently indicate that primary-wall cellulose microfibrils contain at least 24 glucan chains.

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Journal of Experimental Botany

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