The structure, function, and biosynthesis of plant cell wall pectic polysaccharides

Carbohydr Res. 2009 Sep 28;344(14):1879-900. doi: 10.1016/j.carres.2009.05.021. Epub 2009 Jun 2.


Plant cell walls consist of carbohydrate, protein, and aromatic compounds and are essential to the proper growth and development of plants. The carbohydrate components make up approximately 90% of the primary wall, and are critical to wall function. There is a diversity of polysaccharides that make up the wall and that are classified as one of three types: cellulose, hemicellulose, or pectin. The pectins, which are most abundant in the plant primary cell walls and the middle lamellae, are a class of molecules defined by the presence of galacturonic acid. The pectic polysaccharides include the galacturonans (homogalacturonan, substituted galacturonans, and RG-II) and rhamnogalacturonan-I. Galacturonans have a backbone that consists of alpha-1,4-linked galacturonic acid. The identification of glycosyltransferases involved in pectin synthesis is essential to the study of cell wall function in plant growth and development and for maximizing the value and use of plant polysaccharides in industry and human health. A detailed synopsis of the existing literature on pectin structure, function, and biosynthesis is presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Wall / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Pectins / biosynthesis*
  • Pectins / chemistry*
  • Plants / metabolism*
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry


  • Polysaccharides
  • rhamnogalacturonan I
  • hemicellulose
  • Pectins
  • polygalacturonic acid