The bulk of a plant’s biomass, termed secondary cell walls, accumulates in woody xylem tissues and is largely recalcitrant to biochemical degradation and saccharification1. By contrast, primary cell walls, which are chemically distinct, flexible and generally unlignified2, are easier to deconstruct. Thus, engineering certain primary wall characteristics into xylem secondary walls would be interesting to readily exploit biomass for industrial processing. Here, we demonstrated that by expressing AP2/ERF transcription factors from group IIId and IIIe in xylem fibre cells of mutants lacking secondary walls, we could generate plants with thickened cell wall characteristics of primary cell walls in the place of secondary cell walls. These unique, newly formed walls displayed physicochemical and ultrastructural features consistent with primary walls and had gene expression profiles illustrative of primary wall synthesis. These data indicate that the group IIId and IIIe AP2/ERFs are transcription factors regulating primary cell wall deposition and could form the foundation for exchanging one cell wall type for another in plants.
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The microarray data in this study were deposited to the NCBI GEO under the accession number GSE81039. Other data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Figures 1l–o, 2b,d and 3a,b,d–f and Supplementary Figs. 3, 4, 7c, 10, 11, 14–18, 21 and 22 have associated raw data.
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We thank A. Hosaka, A. Kuwazawa, F. Tobe, M. Yamada, Y. Sugimoto and Y. Takiguchi for their technical support. This work was supported by the JST ALCA program (grant no. JPMJAL1107) (to N.M.), a postdoctoral fellowship from the German Research Foundation (DFG, project 344523413) (to M.S.), University of Melbourne R@MAP Professorship, an ARC Future Fellowship grant (FT160100218) and a UoM IRRTF RNC grant (501892) (to S.P.) and an NSERC Discovery Grant (to S.D.M.).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Supplementary Methods, Supplementary References and Supplementary Figures 1–25.
Over-represented cell-wall-related GO terms in up-regulated genes in nst1 nst3 NST3pro:ERF035-VP16 plants.
Fold changes of cell wall-related genes in NST3p:ERF035-VP16 nst1 nst3 as per nst1 nst3.
Fold changes of cell wall-related genes in NST3p:ERF035-VP16 nst1 nst3 as per nst1 nst3 and in wt as per nst1 nst3.
List of upregulated genes related to cell wall biosynthesis in the nst1 nst3 NST3pro:ERF035-VP16 transgenic plants.
Over-represented cell-wall-related GO terms in putative target genes of group IIId and IIIe ERFs.
Primers in this study.
All transcription factor genes focused in this study.
Amino acid sequences of conserved domain used for constructing phylogenetic tree shown in Supplementary Fig. 25.
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Sakamoto, S., Somssich, M., Nakata, M.T. et al. Complete substitution of a secondary cell wall with a primary cell wall in Arabidopsis. Nature Plants 4, 777–783 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41477-018-0260-4
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