Galactose loss and fruit ripening: high-molecular-weight arabinogalactans in the pectic polysaccharides of fruit cell walls
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Cell wall material (CWM) was prepared from nine fruit species at two ripening stages (unripe and ripe) and extracted sequentially with 0.05 M trans-1,2-diaminocyclohexane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid (CDTA), 0.05 M Na2CO3 and 4 M KOH. Each solubilised fraction and the CWM-residue remaining after 4 M KOH extraction was analysed for non-cellulosic sugar composition. A common pattern of distribution for polyuronide and pectin-associated neutral sugar was observed for all unripe fruit. Most polyuronide was extracted in the CDTA/Na2CO3 fractions while 70–93% of the neutral sugar was located on pectic polysaccharides in the 4 M KOH-soluble and CWM-residue fractions. During ripening, most of the galactose was lost from pectic polysaccharides in the CWM-residue. Partial solubilisation of these polysaccharides was achieved by treating the CWM-residue with endopolygalacturonase. The solubilised polysaccharides were separated into two fractions by ion-exchange chromatography. One of these contained polysaccharides with average molecular weights of 400 kDa or larger and consisted of between 70 and 90% arabinogalactan. The galactosyl residues were 80–90% β-1→4 linked, indicating largely unbranched side-chains. The arabinosyl residues were distributed among terminal, 3-, 5-, 2,5-, and 2,3,5-linked residues, indicating a highly ramified structure. The results are discussed with regard to the relationship between pectin solubilisation and galactose loss and their respective contribution to fruit softening.
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