Pectin, which is a major component of the plant primary cell walls, is synthesized and methyl-esterified in the Golgi apparatus and then demethylesterified by pectin methylesterases (PMEs) located in the cell wall. The degree of methylesterification affects the functional properties of pectin, and thereby influences plant growth, development and defense. However, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate pectin demethylesterification. Here, we show that in Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) seed coat mucilage, the absence of the MYB52 transcription factor is correlated with an increase in PME activity and a decrease in the degree of pectin methylesterification. Decreased methylesterification in the myb52 mutant is also correlated with an increase in the calcium content of the seed mucilage. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis and molecular genetic studies suggest that MYB52 transcriptionally activates PECTIN METHYLESTERASE INHIBITOR6 (PMEI6), PMEI14, and SUBTILISIN-LIKE SER PROTEASE1.7 (SBT1.7) by binding to their promoters. PMEI6 and SBT1.7 have previously been shown to be involved in seed coat mucilage demethylesterification. Our characterization of two PMEI14 mutants suggests that PMEI14 has a role in seed coat mucilage demethylesterification, although its activity may be confined to the seed coat in contrast to PMEI6, which functions in the whole seed. Our demonstration that MYB52 negatively regulates pectin demethylesterification in seed coat mucilage, and the identification of components of the molecular network involved, provides new insight into the regulatory mechanism controlling pectin demethylesterification and increases our understanding of the transcriptional regulation network involved in seed coat mucilage formation.
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