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Xyloglucan O-acetyltransferases from Arabidopsis thaliana and Populus trichocarpa catalyze acetylation of fucosylated galactose residues on xyloglucan side chains

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Main conclusion

AXY4/XGOAT1, AXY4L/XGOAT2 and PtrXGOATs are O-acetyltransferases acetylating fucosylated galactose residues on xyloglucan and AXY9 does not directly catalyze O-acetylation of xyloglucan but exhibits weak acetylesterase activity.

Xyloglucan is a major hemicellulose that cross-links cellulose in the primary walls of dicot plants and the galactose (Gal) residues on its side chains can be mono- and di-O-acetylated. In Arabidopsis thaliana, mutations of three AXY (altered xyloglucan) genes, AXY4, AXY4L and AXY9, have previously been shown to cause a reduction in xyloglucan acetylation, but their biochemical functions remain to be investigated. In this report, we demonstrated that recombinant proteins of AXY4/XGOAT1 (xyloglucan O-acetyltransferase1), AXY4L/XGOAT2 and their close homologs from Populus trichocarpa, PtrXGOATs, displayed O-acetyltransferase activities transferring acetyl groups from acetyl CoA onto xyloglucan oligomers. Structural analysis of XGOAT-catalyzed reaction products revealed that XGOATs mediated predominantly 6-O-monoacetylation and a much lesser degree of 3-O and 4-O-monoacetylation and 4,6-di-O-acetylation of Gal residues on xyloglucan side chains. XGOATs appeared to preferentially acetylate fucosylated Gal residues with little activity toward non-fucosylated Gal residues. Mutations of the conserved amino acid residues in the GDS and DXXH motifs in AXY4/XGOAT1 resulted in a drastic reduction in its ability to transfer acetyl groups onto xyloglucan oligomers. In addition, although recombinant AXY9 was unable to transfer acetyl groups from acetyl CoA onto xyloglucan oligomers, it was catalytically active as demonstrated by its weak acetylesterase activity that was also exhibited by AXY4/XGOAT1 and AXY4L/XGOAT2. Furthermore, we showed that the AXY8 fucosidase was able to hydrolyze fucosyl residues from both non-acetylated and acetylated xyloglucan oligomers. These findings provide biochemical evidence that AXY4/XGOAT1, AXY4L/XGOAT2 and PtrXGOATs are xyloglucan O-acetyltransferases catalyzing acetyl transfer onto fucosylated Gal residues on xyloglucan side chains and the defucosylation of these acetylated side chains by apoplastic AXY8 generates side chains with acetylated, non-fucosylated Gal residues.

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We thank Dr. D. R. Phillips at the PAMS facility for technical help. This work was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences (Grant No. DE-FG02-03ER15415).

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Correspondence to Zheng-Hua Ye.

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Zhong, R., Cui, D. & Ye, Z. Xyloglucan O-acetyltransferases from Arabidopsis thaliana and Populus trichocarpa catalyze acetylation of fucosylated galactose residues on xyloglucan side chains. Planta 248, 1159–1171 (2018).

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  • Acetyltransferase
  • Arabidopsis
  • Cell wall
  • DUF231
  • Populus
  • Xyloglucan