Extensins: Self-Assembly, Crosslinking, and the Role of Peroxidases

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The extensin (EXT) network is elaborated by the covalent intermolecular crosslinking of EXT glycoprotein monomers, and its proper assembly is important for numerous aspects of basic wall architecture and cellular defense. In this review, we discuss new advances in the secretion of EXT monomers and the molecular drivers of EXT network self-assembly. Many of the functions of EXTs are conferred through covalent crosslinking into the wall, so we also discuss the different types of known intermolecular crosslinks, the enzymes that are involved, as well as the potential for additional crosslinks that are yet to be identified. EXTs also function in wall architecture independent of crosslinking status, and therefore, we explore the role of non-crosslinking EXTs. As EXT crosslinking is upregulated in response to wounding and pathogen infection, we discuss a potential regulatory mechanism to control covalent crosslinking and its relationship to the subcellular localization of the crosslinking enzymes.