Effect of pectin methylesterase gene expression on pea root development

Fushi Wen, Yanmin Zhu, Martha C. Hawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

210 Scopus citations


Expression of an inducible gene with sequences common to genes encoding pectin methylesterase (PME) was found to be tightly correlated, both spatially and temporally, with border cell separation in pea root caps. Partial inhibition of the gene's expression by antisense mRNA in transgenic pea hairy roots prevented the normal separation of root border cells from the root tip into the external environment. This phenotype was correlated with an increase in extracellular pH, reduced root elongation, and altered cellular morphology. The translation product of the gene exhibited PME activity in vitro. These results are consistent with the long-standing hypothesis that the demethylation of pectin by PME plays a key role in cell wall metabolism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1129-1140
Number of pages12
JournalPlant Cell
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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