, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 189-196

An enzyme to degrade lettuce endosperm cell walls. Appearance of a mannanase following phytochrome- and gibberellin-induced germination

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Lettuce seeds (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Grand Rapids) stimulated to germinate by gibberellin and red light produce large amounts of endo-β-mannanase. This enzyme increases markedly following radicle emergence and is capable of degrading mannose-containing polysaccharides, which are the major components of the endosperm cell wall. Non-germinated seeds contain little enzyme and under conditions where gibberellin- or red light-stimulated germination is prevented (eg. by abscisic acid or prolonged far red light) enzyme levels remain low. Cycloheximide inhibits the increase in enzyme levels when supplied to germinating seeds, but the enzyme once produced is stable in vivo in the presence of this inhibitor for at least 24h. The majority of the extractable mannanase activity is located in the endosperm and we propose that the function of this enzyme is to mobilise the endosperm cell wall polysaccharides as a nutrient source for the growing embryo.