• Open Access

UDP-sugar pyrophosphorylase is essential for arabinose and xylose recycling, and is required during vegetative and reproductive growth in Arabidopsis


For correspondence (e-mail raimund.tenhaken@sbg.ac.at).


Numerous nucleotide sugars are needed in plants to synthesize cell wall polymers and glycoproteins. The de novo synthesis of nucleotide sugars is of major importance. During growth, however, some polymers are broken down to monosaccharides. Reactivation of these sugars into nucleotide sugars occurs in two steps: first, by a substrate-specific sugar-1-kinase and, second, by UDP-sugar-pyrophosphorylase (USP), which has broad substrate specificity. A knock-out of the USP gene results in non-fertile pollen. By using various genetic complementation approaches we obtained a strong (>95%) knock-down line in USP that allowed us to investigate the physiological role of the enzyme during the life cycle. Mutant plants show an arabinose reduction in the cell wall, and accumulate mainly two sugars, arabinose and xylose, in the cytoplasm. The arabinogalactanproteins in usp mutants show no significant reduction in size. USP is also part of the myo-inositol oxygenation pathway to UDP-glucuronic acid; however, free glucuronic acid does not accumulate in cells, suggesting alternative conversion pathways of this monosaccharide. The knock-down plants are mostly sterile because of the improper formation of anthers and pollen sacks.