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Pectin is a normal constituent of cell walls of green plants. When supplied externally to live cells or walls isolated from the large-celled green alga Chara corallina, pectin removes calcium from load-bearing cross-links in the wall, loosening the structure and allowing it to deform more rapidly under the action of turgor pressure. New Ca(2+) enters the vacated positions in the wall and the externally supplied pectin binds to the wall, depositing new wall material that strengthens the wall. A calcium pectate cycle has been proposed for these sub-reactions. In the present work, the cycle was tested in C. corallina by depriving the wall of external Ca(2+) while allowing the cycle to run. The prediction is that growth would eventually be disrupted by a lack of adequate deposition of new wall. The test involved adding pectate or the calcium chelator EGTA to the Ca(2+)-containing culture medium to bind the calcium while the cycle ran in live cells. After growth accelerated, turgor and growth eventually decreased, followed by an abrupt turgor loss and growth cessation. The same experiment with isolated walls suggested the walls of live cells became unable to support the plasma membrane. If instead the pectate or EGTA was replaced with fresh Ca(2+)-containing culture medium during the initial acceleration in live cells, growth was not disrupted and returned to the original rates. The operation of the cycle was thus confirmed, providing further evidence that growth rates and wall biosynthesis are controlled by these sub-reactions in plant cell walls.


Timothy E Proseus, John S Boyer. Calcium deprivation disrupts enlargement of Chara corallina cells: further evidence for the calcium pectate cycle. Journal of experimental botany. 2012 Jun;63(10):3953-8

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PMID: 22442410

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