The CELLULOSE SYNTHASE-LIKE F6 (CslF6) gene was previously shown to mediate the biosynthesis of mixed-linkage glucan (MLG), a cell wall polysaccharide that is hypothesized to be tightly associated with cellulose and also have a role in cell expansion in the primary cell wall of young seedlings in grass species. We have recently shown that loss-of-function cslf6 rice mutants do not accumulate MLG in most vegetative tissues. Despite the absence of a structurally important polymer, MLG, these mutants are unexpectedly viable and only show a moderate growth compromise compared to wild type. Therefore these mutants are ideal biological systems to test the current grass cell wall model. In order to gain a better understanding of the role of MLG in the primary wall, we performed in-depth compositional and structural analyses of the cell walls of 3 day-old rice seedlings using various biochemical and novel microspectroscopic approaches. We found that cellulose content as well as matrix polysaccharide composition was not significantly altered in the MLG deficient mutant. However, we observed a significant change in cellulose microfibril bundle organization in mesophyll cell walls of the cslf6 mutant. Using synchrotron source Fourier Transform Mid-Infrared (FTM-IR) Spectromicroscopy for high-resolution imaging, we determined that the bonds associated with cellulose and arabinoxylan, another major component of the primary cell walls of grasses, were in a lower energy configuration compared to wild type, suggesting a slightly weaker primary wall in MLG deficient mesophyll cells. Taken together, these results suggest that MLG may influence cellulose deposition in mesophyll cell walls without significantly affecting anisotropic growth thus challenging MLG importance in cell wall expansion.
Keywords: FT-MIR spectroscopy; cellulose; mixed-linkage glucan; primary cell wall; rice; type II cell walls.