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Received November 16, 2011; Revision received December 30, 2011
Glucuronoarabinoxylan is a key tethering glucan in the primary cell wall of cereals. Glucuronoarabinoxylan was extracted from different zones of maize (Zea mays L.) roots using endoxylanase that specifically cleaves β-(1,4)-glycoside bond between two consequent unsubstituted xylose residues. Changes in polysaccharide structure during elongation growth were characterized. Glucuronoarabinoxylan extractable after the endoxylanase treatment consisted of high molecular weight (30-400 kDa) and low molecular weight (<10 kDa) fractions. The presence of high molecular weight derivatives indicated that part of the natural glucuronoarabinoxylan is not digestible by the endoxylanase. This could be due to the revealed peculiar structural features, such as high level of substitution of xylose, absence of unsubstituted xylose residues existing in sequence, and significant degree of acetylation. In maize root meristem the indigestible fraction was 98% of the total extracted glucuronoarabinoxylan. This portion decreases to 47% during elongation. Also, the average molecular weight of indigestible glucuronoarabinoxylan reduced twofold. These changes in the ratio of glucuronoarabinoxylan fragments with different structure during root cell growth could reflect a transition of polysaccharide from its separating (highly substituted indigestible glucuronoarabinoxylan) form to that binding to cellulose microfibrils or other glucuronoarabinoxylan molecules and, hence, retarding growth.
KEY WORDS: glucuronoarabinoxylan, endoxylanase, cell wall, elongation, growth, Zea mays