Cellulose is one of the most important primary plant products, yet its biosynthetic pathway remains obscure. Freeze-fracture studies have revealed that organized macromolecular structures -'terminal complexes' (=TCs) are present on the plasma membrane, and are associated with cellulose microfibril assembly. A variety of techniques have been developed to isolate and characterize components of this cellulose synthesis complex, and to reconstitute the biosynthetic apparatus in vitro. In this review, we discuss progress to date, both in plants and in other organisms (mainly from studies with the Gram-negative bacterium, Acetobacter xylinum). We also consider the prospects for further analysis based on an integrated approach employing biochemical, ultrastructural and genetic techniques.
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Last modified March 20, 2008
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