Two β-glucuronosyltransferases involved in the biosynthesis of type II arabinogalactans function in mucilage polysaccharide matrix organization in Arabidopsis thaliana

Document Type


Publication Date



Background: Arabinogalactan-proteins (AGPs) are heavily glycosylated with type II arabinogalactan (AG) polysaccharides attached to hydroxyproline residues in their protein backbone. Type II AGs are necessary for plant growth and critically important for the establishment of normal cellular functions. Despite the importance of type II AGs in plant development, our understanding of the underlying role of these glycans/sugar residues in mucilage formation and seed coat epidermal cell development is poorly understood and far from complete. One such sugar residue is the glucuronic acid residues of AGPs that are transferred onto AGP glycans by the action of β-glucuronosyltransferase genes/enzymes. Results: Here, we have characterized two β-glucuronosyltransferase genes, GLCAT14A and GLCAT14C, that are involved in the transfer of β-glucuronic acid (GlcA) to type II AGs. Using a reverse genetics approach, we observed that glcat14a-1 mutants displayed subtle alterations in mucilage pectin homogalacturonan (HG) compared to wild type (WT), while glcat14a-1glcat14c-1 mutants displayed much more severe mucilage phenotypes, including loss of adherent mucilage and significant alterations in cellulose ray formation and seed coat morphology. Monosaccharide composition analysis showed significant alterations in the sugar amounts of glcat14a-1glcat14c-1 mutants relative to WT in the adherent and non-adherent seed mucilage. Also, a reduction in total mucilage content was observed in glcat14a-1glcat14c-1 mutants relative to WT. In addition, glcat14a-1glcat14c-1 mutants showed defects in pectin formation, calcium content and the degree of pectin methyl-esterification (DM) as well as reductions in crystalline cellulose content and seed size. Conclusions: These results raise important questions regarding cell wall polymer interactions and organization during mucilage formation. We propose that the enzymatic activities of GLCAT14A and GLCAT14C play partially redundant roles and are required for the organization of the mucilage matrix and seed size in Arabidopsis thaliana. This work brings us a step closer towards identifying potential gene targets for engineering plant cell walls for industrial applications.