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Does long-term cadmium exposure influence the composition of pectic polysaccharides in the cell wall of Medicago sativa stems?

Gutsch, Annelie, Sergeant, Kjell, Keunen, Els, Prinsen, Els, Guerriero, Gea, Renaut, Jenny, Hausman, Jean-Francois, Cuypers, Ann
BMC plant biology 2019 v.19 no.1 pp. 271
Medicago sativa, anthropogenic activities, apoplast, cadmium, cell wall components, cell walls, chronic exposure, enzyme activity, galacturonic acid, gene expression, heavy metals, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry, methylation, pectinesterase, pectins, proteins, stems, symplast
BACKGROUND: The heavy metal cadmium (Cd) accumulates in the environment due to anthropogenic influences. It is unessential and harmful to all life forms. The plant cell wall forms a physical barrier against environmental stress and changes in the cell wall structure have been observed upon Cd exposure. In the current study, changes in the cell wall composition and structure of Medicago sativa stems were investigated after long-term exposure to Cd. Liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) for quantitative protein analysis was complemented with targeted gene expression analysis and combined with analyses of the cell wall composition. RESULTS: Several proteins determining for the cell wall structure changed in abundance. Structural changes mainly appeared in the composition of pectic polysaccharides and data indicate an increased presence of xylogalacturonan in response to Cd. Although a higher abundance and enzymatic activity of pectin methylesterase was detected, the total pectin methylation was not affected. CONCLUSIONS: An increased abundance of xylogalacturonan might hinder Cd binding in the cell wall due to the methylation of its galacturonic acid backbone. Probably, the exclusion of Cd from the cell wall and apoplast limits the entry of the heavy metal into the symplast and is an important factor during tolerance acquisition.