Redox and wall-restructuring

Shona E. Lindsay, Stephen Fry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


Diverse mechanisms contribute to primary cell wall re-structuring, causing wall loosening and tightening (increasing and decreasing extensibility, respectively). Wall loosening can occur by enzymic hydrolysis and possibly also elimination-degradation of polysaccharides; by enzymic transglycosylation of xyloglucan; by expansin-mediated rupture of hemicellulose–cellulose tethers; and by non-protein-mediated scission of polysaccharides through hydroxyl radical attack. Tightening can occur by enzymic de-esterification of pectin enabling Ca2+-bridge formation; and by peroxidase-catalysed coupling of phenol–polysaccharide complexes and of tyrosine-containing glycoproteins. Several loosening and tightening mechanisms involve redox reactions; low-molecular-weight oxidants and anti-oxidants in the apoplast can therefore control wall extensibility. Apoplastic ascorbate is unusual in potentially being either an anti-oxidant or a pro-oxidant (the latter via Fenton reaction-mediated production of hydroxyl radicals). Many wall-localised reactions are known only from model experiments in vitro: an important future challenge is to explore the relative contributions of postulated reactions in the walls of living plant cells. To this end, a clear distinction is required between enzyme activity (assayed in vitro) and enzyme action (occurring in vivo).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Expanding Cell
EditorsJean-Pierre Verbelen, Kris Vissenberg
PublisherBerlin: Springer
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-540-39116-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-540-39114-2
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • ferulic acid
  • plant cell wall
  • oxidative coupling
  • primary cell wall
  • primary wall


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