The past decade has seen an impressive record of research accomplishments on the biogenesis of cellulose. Since the proposals of Roelofsen and Preston, the putative enzyme aggregates known as terminal complexes (TCs) have been described in a variety of organisms ranging from bacteria to algae and vascular plants. The cellular pathways of TC biogenesis have been probed. Cellulose synthases have been isolated and cellulose synthesized in vitro. An activator of the cellulose synthase from Acetobacter xylinum has been discovered and studied. On the structural front, distinct lattice images of glucan chain crystallites within the microfibrils have been recorded, and electron diffraction studies have complemented the x-ray analyses. Careful labeling methods have demonstrated unequivocally the parallel arrangement of glucan chains within microfibrils of the cellulose polymorph. Crystallization and polymerization events have been dynamically studied using agents which interfere with the crystallization phase but not the polymerization reactions. This progress has brought us fresh challenges and opportunities for the coming decade. The cellulose synthase should be purified to homogeneity and characterized. Success in this area should lead to the production of gene probes which will greatly expand our "nascent" molecular genetics
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Last modified 27 October 2005.
This document is maintained by Dr. R. Malcolm Brown, Jr.