Arabidopsis and Brachypodium distachyon transgenic plants expressing Aspergillus nidulans acetylesterases have decreased degree of polysaccharide acetylation and increased resistance to pathogens

Plant Physiol. 2013 May;162(1):9-23. doi: 10.1104/pp.113.214460. Epub 2013 Mar 5.


The plant cell wall has many significant structural and physiological roles, but the contributions of the various components to these roles remain unclear. Modification of cell wall properties can affect key agronomic traits such as disease resistance and plant growth. The plant cell wall is composed of diverse polysaccharides often decorated with methyl, acetyl, and feruloyl groups linked to the sugar subunits. In this study, we examined the effect of perturbing cell wall acetylation by making transgenic Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) and Brachypodium (Brachypodium distachyon) plants expressing hemicellulose- and pectin-specific fungal acetylesterases. All transgenic plants carried highly expressed active Aspergillus nidulans acetylesterases localized to the apoplast and had significant reduction of cell wall acetylation compared with wild-type plants. Partial deacetylation of polysaccharides caused compensatory up-regulation of three known acetyltransferases and increased polysaccharide accessibility to glycosyl hydrolases. Transgenic plants showed increased resistance to the fungal pathogens Botrytis cinerea and Bipolaris sorokiniana but not to the bacterial pathogens Pseudomonas syringae and Xanthomonas oryzae. These results demonstrate a role, in both monocot and dicot plants, of hemicellulose and pectin acetylation in plant defense against fungal pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Acetylesterase / genetics
  • Acetylesterase / metabolism*
  • Arabidopsis / cytology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics
  • Arabidopsis / immunology
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Ascomycota / pathogenicity
  • Aspergillus nidulans / enzymology*
  • Aspergillus nidulans / genetics
  • Botrytis / pathogenicity
  • Brachypodium / cytology
  • Brachypodium / genetics
  • Brachypodium / immunology
  • Brachypodium / physiology*
  • Cell Wall / metabolism*
  • Disease Resistance
  • Fungal Proteins / genetics
  • Fungal Proteins / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Plant
  • Glucans / metabolism
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Pectins / metabolism
  • Plant Components, Aerial
  • Plant Diseases / immunology
  • Plants, Genetically Modified
  • Polysaccharides / metabolism*
  • Pseudomonas syringae / pathogenicity
  • Up-Regulation
  • Xanthomonas / pathogenicity


  • Fungal Proteins
  • Glucans
  • Polysaccharides
  • hemicellulose
  • Pectins
  • callose
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Acetylesterase