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Author Notes:

E-mail: eberhard.voit@bme.gatech.edu

Conceived and designed the experiments: YL LET RAD EOV.

Performed the experiments: YL LET.

Analyzed the data: YL EOV.

Wrote the paper: YL RAD EOV LET.

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Subject:

Research Funding:

This work was funded by DoE-BESC.

Keywords:

  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Biochemical Research Methods
  • Mathematical & Computational Biology
  • Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • BIOCHEMICAL RESEARCH METHODS
  • MATHEMATICAL & COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY
  • MEDICAGO-SATIVA L.
  • SYRINGYL LIGNIN
  • O-METHYLTRANSFERASE
  • CHEMICAL SYNTHESES
  • PLANTS
  • PATHWAYS
  • ARABIDOPSIS
  • ENZYMES
  • ACID
  • MONOLIGNOLS

Journal Title:

PLoS Computational Biology

Volume:

Volume 8, Number 11

Publisher:

, Pages e1002769-e1002769

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF

Abstract:

Lignin is a polymer in secondary cell walls of plants that is known to have negative impacts on forage digestibility, pulping efficiency, and sugar release from cellulosic biomass. While targeted modifications of different lignin biosynthetic enzymes have permitted the generation of transgenic plants with desirable traits, such as improved digestibility or reduced recalcitrance to saccharification, some of the engineered plants exhibit monomer compositions that are clearly at odds with the expected outcomes when the biosynthetic pathway is perturbed. In Medicago, such discrepancies were partly reconciled by the recent finding that certain biosynthetic enzymes may be spatially organized into two independent channels for the synthesis of guaiacyl (G) and syringyl (S) lignin monomers. Nevertheless, the mechanistic details, as well as the biological function of these interactions, remain unclear. To decipher the working principles of this and similar control mechanisms, we propose and employ here a novel computational approach that permits an expedient and exhaustive assessment of hundreds of minimal designs that could arise in vivo. Interestingly, this comparative analysis not only helps distinguish two most parsimonious mechanisms of crosstalk between the two channels by formulating a targeted and readily testable hypothesis, but also suggests that the G lignin-specific channel is more important for proper functioning than the S lignin-specific channel. While the proposed strategy of analysis in this article is tightly focused on lignin synthesis, it is likely to be of similar utility in extracting unbiased information in a variety of situations, where the spatial organization of molecular components is critical for coordinating the flow of cellular information, and where initially various control designs seem equally valid.

Copyright information:

© 2012 Lee et al.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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