• pectin;
  • cellulose microfibril;
  • cortical microtubule;
  • cobtorin;
  • methylation;
  • chemical genetics


Cellulose and pectin are major components of primary cell walls in plants, and it is believed that their mechanical properties are important for cell morphogenesis. It has been hypothesized that cortical microtubules guide the movement of cellulose microfibril synthase in a direction parallel with the microtubules, but the mechanism by which this alignment occurs remains unclear. We have previously identified cobtorin as an inhibitor that perturbs the parallel relationship between cortical microtubules and nascent cellulose microfibrils. In this study, we searched for the protein target of cobtorin, and we found that overexpression of pectin methylesterase and polygalacturonase suppressed the cobtorin-induced cell-swelling phenotype. Furthermore, treatment with polygalacturonase restored the deposition of cellulose microfibrils in the direction parallel with cortical microtubules, and cobtorin perturbed the distribution of methylated pectin. These results suggest that control over the properties of pectin is important for the deposition of cellulose microfibrils and/or the maintenance of their orientation parallel with the cortical microtubules.