Structure and interactions of plant cell-wall polysaccharides by two- and three-dimensional magic-angle-spinning solid-state NMR

Biochemistry. 2011 Feb 15;50(6):989-1000. doi: 10.1021/bi101795q. Epub 2011 Jan 20.


The polysaccharide-rich cell walls (CWs) of plants perform essential functions such as maintaining tensile strength and allowing plant growth. Using two- and three-dimensional magic-angle-spinning (MAS) solid-state NMR and uniformly (13)C-labeled Arabidopsis thaliana, we have assigned the resonances of the major polysaccharides in the intact and insoluble primary CW and determined the intermolecular contacts and dynamics of cellulose, hemicelluloses, and pectins. Cellulose microfibrils showed extensive interactions with pectins, while the main hemicellulose, xyloglucan, exhibited few cellulose cross-peaks, suggesting limited entrapment in the microfibrils rather than extensive surface coating. Site-resolved (13)C T(1) and (1)H T(1ρ) relaxation times indicate that the entrapped xyloglucan has motional properties that are intermediate between the rigid cellulose and the dynamic pectins. Xyloglucan absence in a triple knockout mutant caused the polysaccharides to undergo much faster motions than in the wild-type CW. These results suggest that load bearing in plant CWs is accomplished by a single network of all three types of polysaccharides instead of a cellulose-xyloglucan network, thus revising the existing paradigm of CW structure. The extensive pectin-cellulose interaction suggests a central role for pectins in maintaining the structure and function of plant CWs. This study demonstrates the power of multidimensional MAS NMR for molecular level investigation of the structure and dynamics of complex and energy-rich plant materials.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Carbon Isotopes / chemistry
  • Cell Wall / chemistry*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Glucans / chemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Models, Molecular
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry*
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Xylans / chemistry


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Glucans
  • Polysaccharides
  • Xylans
  • xyloglucan