169a. Tsekos, I.,  Okuda, K. and Brown, R.M., Jr. 1996. The formation and development of cellulose-synthesizing linear terminal complexes (TCs) in the plasma membrane of the marine red alga Erythrocladia subintegra Rosenv. Protoplasma 193: 33-45

169a. Abstract

The formation and development of linear terminal complexes (TCs), the putative cellulose synthesizing units of the red alga Erythrocladia subintegra Rosenv., were investigated by a freeze etching technique using both rotary and unidirectional shadowing. The ribbon-like cellulose fibrils of E. subintegra are 27.6 0.8 nm wide and only 1-1.5 nm thick. They are synthesized by TCs which are composed of repeating transverse rows formed of four particles, the TC subunits. About 50.4 1.7 subunits constitute a TC. They are apparently more strongly interconnected in transverse than in longitudinal directions. Some TC subunits can be resolved as doublets by Fourier analysis. Large globular particles (globules) seem to function as precursor units in the assembly and maturation of the TCs. They are composed of a central hole (the core) with small subunits forming a peripheral ridge and seem to represent zymogenic precursors. TC assembly is initiated after two or three gobules come into close contact with each other, swell and unfold to a nucleation unit resembling the first 2-3 transverse rows of a TC. Longitudinal elongation of the TC occurs by the unfolding of globules attached to both ends of the TC nucleation unit until the TC is completed. The typical intramembranous particles observed in Erthrocladia (unidirectional shadowing) are 9.15 0.13 nm in diameter, whereas those of a TC have an average diameter of 8.77 0.11 nm. During cell wall synthesis membranes of vesicles originating from the Golgi apparatus and which seem to fuse with the plasma membrane contain large globules, 15-22 nm in diameter, as well as "tetrads" with a particle diameter of about 8 nm. The latter are assumed to be involved in the synthesis of the amorphous extracellular matrix cell wall polysaccharides. The following working model for cellulose fibril assembly in E. subintegra is suggested: (I) the ribbon-like cellulose fibril is synthesized by a single linear TC; (2) the number of glucan chains per microfibril correlates with the number of TC subunits; (3) a single subunit synthesizes 3 glucan chains which appear to stack along the 0.6 nm lattice plane; (4) lateral aggregation of the "3-mer" stacks leads to the crystalline microfibril.

Keywords: Erythrocladia subintegra; Red alga; Freeze-fracture; Cellulose; Linear terminal complexes.


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