J Integr Plant Biol. ›› 2018, Vol. 60 ›› Issue (6): 481-497.DOI: 10.1111/jipb.12637

• Metabolism and Biochemistry • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Cellulose synthase ‘class specific regions’ are intrinsically disordered and functionally undifferentiated

Tess R. Scavuzzo-Duggan1†‡, Arielle M. Chaves1†, Abhishek Singh2†, Latsavongsakda Sethaphong, Erin Slabaugh, Yaroslava G. Yingling2, Candace H. Haigler3 and Alison W. Roberts1*   

  1. 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Rhode Island, 120 Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881, USA
    2Department of Materials Science and Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
    3Department of Crop and Soil Sciences and Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
  • Received:2017-11-04 Accepted:2018-01-27 Published:2018-06-01
  • About author:These authors contributed equally to this work.
    Present address: Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley CA 94720, USA
    §Present address: US Naval Academy, Annapolis MD 21402, USA
    Present address: BASF Agricultural Product Group, Research Triangle Park NC 27709, USA
    *Correspondence: Email: Alison W. Roberts (aroberts@uri.edu)


Cellulose synthases (CESAs) are glycosyltransferases that catalyze formation of cellulose microfibrils in plant cell walls. Seed plant CESA isoforms cluster in six phylogenetic clades, whose non‐interchangeable members play distinct roles within cellulose synthesis complexes (CSCs). A ‘class specific region’ (CSR), with higher sequence similarity within versus between functional CESA classes, has been suggested to contribute to specific activities or interactions of different isoforms. We investigated CESA isoform specificity in the moss, Physcomitrella patens (Hedw.) B. S. G. to gain evolutionary insights into CESA structure/function relationships. Like seed plants, P. patens has oligomeric rosette‐type CSCs, but the PpCESAs diverged independently and form a separate CESA clade. We showed that P. patens has two functionally distinct CESAs classes, based on the ability to complement the gametophore‐negative phenotype of a ppcesa5 knockout line. Thus, non‐interchangeable CESA classes evolved separately in mosses and seed plants. However, testing of chimeric moss CESA genes for complementation demonstrated that functional class‐specificity is not determined by the CSR. Sequence analysis and computational modeling showed that the CSR is intrinsically disordered and contains predicted molecular recognition features, consistent with a possible role in CESA oligomerization and explaining the evolution of class‐specific sequences without selection for class‐specific function.

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