The evolution of the Glycomic Codes of extracellular matrices

Biosystems. 2018 Feb;164:112-120. doi: 10.1016/j.biosystems.2017.10.003. Epub 2017 Oct 7.


The extracellular matrices (ECMs) of living organisms are compartments responsible for maintenance of cell shape, cell adhesion, and cell communication. They are also involved in cell signaling and defense against the attack of pathogens. The plant cell walls have been recently defined as encoded structures that combine polysaccharides with other encoded structures (proteins and phenolic compounds). The term Glycomic Code has been used to define the set of mechanisms that generate cell wall architecture (the combination of polymers of different types) and biological function. Here, the composition of the extracellular matrices of archaea, bacteria, animals, fungi, algae, and plants was compared to understand how the Glycomic Code of these different organisms operate to produce polysaccharides and therefore how the Glycomic Code may have evolved in nature. It was found that the heterotrophs display EMC polysaccharides containing aminosugars (nitrogen-based polysaccharides) whereas the photosynthetic organisms have cellulose-based walls, with polymers that hardly present aminosugars in its composition. Another subgroup is of the organisms containing EMCs with sulfated polysaccharides (animals and red algae). The main hemicellulose found in plants (xyloglucan) is used as a case study along with other seed cell wall storage polysaccharides of plants to exemplify the evolution of the Glycomic Code in plants. Overall, the trends observed in this work shows for the first time how the Glycomic Code in ECMs of living organisms may have evolved and diversified in nature.

Keywords: Cell wall; Cellulose; Extracellular matrix; Glycomic Code; Glycosaminoglycan; Hemicellulose; Polysaccharides; Xyloglucan.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Wall / genetics
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Extracellular Matrix / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Genetic Code / physiology*
  • Glycomics / methods
  • Glycomics / trends*
  • Humans