Activation of Pollen Tube Callose Synthase by Detergents (Evidence for Different Mechanisms of Action) Academic Article uri icon


  • In pollen tubes of Nicotiana alata, a membrane-bound, Ca(2+)-independent callose synthase (CalS) is responsible for the biosynthesis of the (1,3)-beta-glucan backbone of callose, the main cell wall component. Digitonin increases CalS activity 3- to 4-fold over a wide range of concentrations, increasing the maximum initial velocity without altering the Michaelis constant for UDP-glucose. The CalS activity that requires digitonin for assay (the latent CalS activity) is not inhibited by the membrane-impermeant, active site-directed reagent UDP-pyridoxal when the reaction is conducted in the absence of digitonin. This is consistent with digitonin increasing CalS activity by the permeabilization of membrane vesicles. A second group of detergents, including 3-[(3-cholamidopropyl)dimethylammonio]-1-propane-sulfonate (CHAPS), Zwittergent 3-16, and 1-alpha-lysolecithin, activate pollen tube CalS 10- to 15-fold, but only over a narrow range of concentrations just below their respective critical micellar concentrations. This activation could not be attributed to any particular chemical feature of these detergents. CHAPS increases maximum initial velocity and decreases the Michaelis constant for UDP-glucose and activates CalS even in the presence of permeabilizing concentrations of digitonin. Inhibition studies with UDP-pyridoxal indicate that activation by CHAPS occurs by recruitment of previously inactive CalS molecules to the pool of active enzyme. The activation of pollen tube CalS by these detergents therefore resembles activation of the enzyme by trypsin.

publication date

  • August 1, 1997