Expansin proteins, which have so far been identified only in plants, rapidly induce extension of plant cell walls by weakening the non-covalent interactions that help to maintain their integrity1. Here we show that an animal, the plant-parasitic roundworm Globodera rostochiensis, can also produce a functional expansin, which it uses to loosen cell walls when invading its host plant. As this nematode is known to be able to disrupt covalent bonds in plant cell walls2, 3, its accompanying ability to loosen non-covalent bonds challenges the prevailing view that animals are genetically poorly equipped to degrade plant cell walls.
- cell walls
Qin Ling, Kudla, U., Roze, E. H. A., Goverse, A., Popeijus, H., Nieuwland, J., ... Helder, J. (2004). Editorial: Plant degradation: a nematode expansin acting on plants. Nature, 427, 30-30. https://doi.org/10.1038/427030a