, Volume 242, Issue 4, pp 791–811 | Cite as

Tuning of pectin methylesterification: consequences for cell wall biomechanics and development

  • Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay
  • Jerome Pelloux
  • Siobhan A. Braybrook
  • Kerstin MüllerEmail author


Main conclusion

Recent publications have increased our knowledge of how pectin composition and the degree of homogalacturonan methylesterification impact the biochemical and biomechanical properties of plant cell walls, plant development, and plants’ interactions with their abiotic and biotic environments. Experimental observations have shown that the relationships between the DM, the pattern of de-methylesterificaton, its effect on cell wall elasticity, other biomechanical parameters, and growth are not straightforward. Working towards a detailed understanding of these relationships at single cell resolution is one of the big tasks of pectin research.

Pectins are highly complex polysaccharides abundant in plant primary cell walls. New analytical and microscopy techniques are revealing the composition and mechanical properties of the cell wall and increasing our knowledge on the topic. Progress in plant physiological research supports a link between cell wall pectin modifications and plant development and interactions with the environment. Homogalacturonan pectins, which are major components of the primary cell wall, have a potential for modifications such as methylesterification, as well as an ability to form cross-linked structures with divalent cations. This contributes to changing the mechanical properties of the cell wall. This review aims to give a comprehensive overview of the pectin component homogalacturonan, including its synthesis, modification, regulation and role in the plant cell wall.


Pectin methylesterification Pectin acetylation Homogalacturonan biosynthesis Cell wall loosening Cell wall stiffening 



We thank Sam Taylor for his help with this manuscript. The financial support from the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships (to G.L.-T.), the Institut Universitaire de France (IUF) to J.P. and a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship to K.M. is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Levesque-Tremblay
    • 1
  • Jerome Pelloux
    • 2
  • Siobhan A. Braybrook
    • 3
  • Kerstin Müller
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Energy Bioscience InstituteUniversity of California BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.EA3900-BIOPI Biologie des Plantes et InnovationUniversité de Picardie Jules VerneAmiensFrance
  3. 3.The Sainsbury LaboratoryUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  4. 4.Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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