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Modification of hemicellulose content by antisense down-regulation of UDP-glucuronate decarboxylase in tobacco and its conscequence for cellulose extractability

Bindschedler, L.V., Tuerck, J., Maunders, M., Ruel, K., Petit-Conil, M., Danoun, S., Boudet, A.M., Joseleau, J.P. and Bolwell, G.P. (2007) Modification of hemicellulose content by antisense down-regulation of UDP-glucuronate decarboxylase in tobacco and its conscequence for cellulose extractability. Phytochemistry, 68 (21). pp. 2635-48. ISSN 0031-9422

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2007.08.029


Extractability and recovery of cellulose from cell walls influences many industrial processes and also the utilisation of biomass for energy purposes. The utility of genetic manipulation of lignin has proven potential for optimising such processes and is also advantageous for the environment. Hemicelluloses, particularly secondary wall xylans, also influence the extractability of cellulose. UDP-glucuronate decarboxylase produces UDP-xylose, the precursor for xylans and the effect of its down-regulation on cell wall structure and cellulose extractability in transgenic tobacco has been investigated. Since there are a number of potential UDP-glucuronate decarboxylase genes, a 490 bp sequence of high similarity between members of the family, was chosen for general alteration of the expression of the gene family. Sense and antisense transgenic lines were analysed for enzyme activity using a modified and optimised electrophoretic assay, for enzyme levels by western blotting and for secondary cell wall composition. Some of the down-regulated antisense plants showed high glucose to xylose ratios in xylem walls due to less xylose-containing polymers, while arabinose and uronic acid contents, which could also have been affected by any change in UDP-xylose provision, were unchanged. The overall morphology and stem lignin content of the modified lines remained little changed compared with wild-type. However, there were some changes in vascular organisation and reduction of xylans in the secondary walls was confirmed by immunocytochemistry. Pulping analysis showed a decreased pulp yield and a higher Kappa number in some lines compared with controls, indicating that they were less delignified, although the level of residual alkali was reduced. Such traits probably indicate that lignin was less available for removal in a reduced background of xylans. However, the viscosity was higher in most antisense lines, meaning that the cellulose was less broken-down during the pulping process. This is one of the first studies of a directed manipulation of hemicellulose content on cellulose extractability and shows both positive and negative outcomes.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences
ID Code:9952
Uncontrolled Keywords:Nicotiana tabacum, Solanaceae, Tobacco, Cell wall, Hemicellulose, UDP-glucuronate decarboxylase, Antisense

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