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Chemistry & Biochemistry Colloquium | Plant cell wall biosynthesis—from genes to function, March 27

The Chemistry & Biochemistry colloquium series presents Breeanna Urbanowicz discussing "Plant cell wall biosynthesis—from genes to function"on March 27 from 4:10 to 5:05 p.m. in Walter 135.


Urbanowicz is Assistant Professor at University of Georgia's Complex Carbohydrate Research Center in Athens, Georgia, and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


The host is Michael Held.


Abstract: Enabling technologies are needed to build a comprehensive view of complex polysaccharide biosynthesis. These advances will be necessary to inform future development of designer polymers and plant biomass by controlled manipulation of carbohydrate active enzymes. Xylan is the second most abundant polysaccharide in cell walls yet is underutilized due to its molecular composition and structural complexity (1). In vitro biochemical characterization of pathway enzymes is vital to understand xylan biosynthesis and inform future synthetic biology applications. However, current methods have considerable limitations, including poor solubility of biologically relevant substrates that hinder our ability to determine in vivo contributions of biosynthetic enzymes that dictate polymer patterning and polymer-polymer interactions (2). To address these limitations, we are developing a modular, one-pot multienzyme (OPME) system to study the interplay between glycosyl- and acetyltransferases that synthesize precisely structured xylan polymers in an accessible, cost-effective manner. To achieve this, we have identified xylan synthase 1 from the charophyte alga Klebsormidium flaccidum as a powerful biocatalytic tool for the bottom-up synthesis of pure β-1,4 xylan polymers that we have shown can be utilized as a vanguard enzyme for development of a xylan-specific OPME platform (3).  We have combined this catalyst with recombinant proteins from a variety of organisms and will present current updates highlighting the success of this approach.


1. Curry, T. M., et al. 2023. The Cell Surface 9.

2. Martinez, I., et al., 2023. Chemistry–A European Journal

3. Smith, P.J., et al., 2022. ACS Materials Au

Event Details

  • Mary Mcculloch

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