A six-lobed membrane spanning cellulose synthesis complex (CSC) containing multiple cellulose synthase (CESA) glycosyltransferases mediates cellulose microfibril formation. The number of CESAs in the CSC has been debated for decades in light of changing estimates of the diameter of the smallest microfibril formed from the β-1,4 glucan chains synthesized by one CSC. We obtained more direct evidence through generating improved transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images and image averages of the rosette-type CSC, revealing the frequent triangularity and average cross-sectional area in the plasma membrane of its individual lobes. Trimeric oligomers of two alternative CESA computational models corresponded well with individual lobe geometry. A six-fold assembly of the trimeric computational oligomer had the lowest potential energy per monomer and was consistent with rosette CSC morphology. Negative stain TEM and image averaging showed the triangularity of a recombinant CESA cytosolic domain, consistent with previous modeling of its trimeric nature from small angle scattering (SAXS) data. Six trimeric SAXS models nearly filled the space below an average FF-TEM image of the rosette CSC. In summary, the multifaceted data support a rosette CSC with 18 CESAs that mediates the synthesis of a fundamental microfibril composed of 18 glucan chains.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes