Date of Completion

May 2005


The synthesis of the plant cell wall is very complex, and understanding how this process occurs will lead to many benefits for future research and industries dependent upon cell walls for their products. The recent discovery of the functions of AtMUR3 and AtGT18 in Arabidopsis thaliana as xyloglucan galactosyltransferases has led to the identification of many more putative glycosyltransferases in the Arabidopsis genome. Due to the structural differences between the xyloglucans of Arabidopsis and solanaceous plants, we decided to search for putative arabinosyltransferases in the Solanaceae. Solanaceous xyloglucan is substituted by one to two arabinosyl residues at the second xylose position, and sometimes contains an arabinose at the first xylose position. In contrast, Arabidopsis xyloglucan does not contain arabinose, and is substituted by galactose at the second and third xylose position. Furthermore, the second galactose residue in Arabidopsis xyloglucan is usually fucosylated, a modification not found in solanaceous plants. Searching the database of expressed sequence tags (dbEST), we identified many likely glycosyltransferases in solanaceous plants, including tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). AtMUR3 and AtGT18 search queries resulted in the identification of three putative glycosyltransferases in L. esculentum, which were tentatively designated LeGT1, Le1GT18, and Le2GT18. Based on phylogenetic considerations, Le2GT18 was thought to be a putative arabinosyltransferase. The gene was transformed into atmur3-3 and atgt18 mutant plants, and the resulting plants will be screened for homozygous plants with the inserted gene. The homozygous T2 plants can then be screened for changes in the composition of their cell walls. Because Le2GT18 is thought to be an arabinosyltransferase, the levels of arabinose may be increased in the xyloglucan fraction of the cell wall. If so, further testing can be performed to reveal the true function of Le2GT18.