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.
February 2021, David Goodselldoi:10.2210/rcsb_pdb/mom_2021_2