Molecule of the Month: Cellulose Synthase
Plants build tough cellulose strands one sugar at a time.
Reinforcing the Wall
Cellulose Synthase in Action
Exploring the Structure
Bacterial Cellulose Synthase
Some bacteria also build cellulose to help them form protective biofilms. The cellulose synthase shown here (PDB entry 4hg6) is from a photosynthetic purple bacterium. Similarly to the plant enzyme, it is embedded in the cell membrane, using UDP-glucose from the cytoplasm and extruding cellulose outside the cell. This amazing structure includes a nascent strand of cellulose and a UDP molecule, capturing the complex just after a glucose has been removed from UDP-glucose and added to the growing strand. To explore this structure in more detail, click on the image for an interactive JSmol.
Topics for Further Discussion
- Cellulose is extruded through a long tunnel in the bacterial enzyme. To see the interactions in this tunnel, take a look at the "Oligosaccharides Interaction" display in Mol*. A similar view is available for the plant enzyme.
Related PDB-101 Resources
- Browse Biology of Plants
- Browse Molecular Infrastructure
- Browse Molecules and the Environment
- 6wlb: Purushotham, P., Ho, R., Zimmer, J. (2020) Architecture of a catalytically active homotrimeric plant cellulose synthase complex. Science 369: 1089-1094
- Hofte, H., Voxeu, A. (2017) Plant cell walls. Curr. Biology 27, R865-R870
- 4hg6: Morgan, J.L., Strumillo, J., Zimmer, J. (2012) Crystallographic snapshot of cellulose synthesis and membrane translocation. Nature 493: 181-186
- 3s27: Zheng, Y., Anderson, S., Zhang, Y., Garavito, R.M. (2011) The Structure of Sucrose Synthase-1 from Arabidopsis thaliana and Its Functional Implications. J Biol Chem 286: 36108-36118
- Brett, C. T. (2010) Cellulose microfibrils in plants: synthesis, deposition and integration into the cell wall. Int. Rev. Cytology 199: 161-199.
- 2icy: McCoy, J.G., Bitto, E., Bingman, C.A., Wesenberg, G.E., Bannen, R.M., Kondrashov, D.A., Phillips Jr., G.N. (2007) Structure and Dynamics of UDP-Glucose Pyrophosphorylase from Arabidopsis thaliana with Bound UDP-Glucose and UTP. J Mol Biol 366: 830-841
- Somerville, C. (2006) Cellulose synthesis in higher plants. Annu. Rev. Cell Dev. Biol. 22:53-78
February 2021, David Goodsellhttp://doi.org/10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2021_2