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Department of Biochemistry

Paul Dupree

Plant cell wall synthesis and function.


Plant cells change their cell wall dramatically during growth and differentiation. The Dupree Group is focused on understanding the biosynthesis and function of polysaccharide components of the plant cell wall. Despite these polysaccharides being some of the most abundant on Earth, and them having enormous nutritional, agricultural, and industrial importance, surprisingly little is known about the genes and enzymes that carry out their synthesis. The polysaccharides are synthesised by an amazing variety of enzymes in the Golgi apparatus. Crucial players in polysaccharide synthesis are sugar nucleotide transporters and glycosyltransferases in the Golgi lumen.

The major focus of our research is the biosynthesis of xylans and glucomannans in different plant species. We are studying the function of Golgi biosynthetic proteins using functional genomics. To identify candidate genes we use a combination of bioinformatic and proteomic approaches. By studying the composition of the extracellular matrix and the structural changes in specific polysaccharide components of mutant Arabidopsis plants, we are bit by bit deciphering the role of the individual proteins. Biochemical assays allow us to investigate the activities of these proteins, complementing our understanding of gene function.


Research objectives

  • How are xylan, glucomannan and cellulose synthesised by plants?

  • What is the function of arabinogalactan proteins?

  • How does the structure of the polysaccharides influence the functional properties in the cell wall?

  • How are cell wall polysaccharides degraded by microbes?

  • Which plant cell wall polysaccharides are the best dietary fibres?


Key publications

Grantham NJ, Wurman-Rodrich J, Terrett OM, Lyczakowski JJ, Stott K, Iuga D, Simmons TJ, Durand-Tardif M, Brown SP, Dupree R, Busse-Wicher M, Dupree P (2017). An even pattern of xylan substitution is critical for interaction with cellulose in plant cell walls. Nat. Plants, 3(11):859-865. doi: 10.1038/s41477-017-0030-8

Simmons TJ, Frandsen KEH, Ciano L, Tryfona T, Lenfant N, Poulsen JC, Wilson LFL, Tandrup T, Tovborg M, Schnorr K, Johansen KS, Henrissat B, Walton PH, Lo Leggio L, Dupree P (2017). Structural and electronic determinants of lytic polysaccharide monooxygenase reactivity on polysaccharide substrates. Nat. Commun., 8(1):1064. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01247-3

Simmons TJ, Mortimer JC, Bernardinelli OD, Pöppler AC, Brown SP, deAzevedo ER, Dupree R, Dupree P (2016). Folding of xylan onto cellulose fibrils in plant cell walls revealed by solid-state NMR. Nat. Commun., 7(1):13902. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13902

Zhang Y, Nikolovski N, Sorieul M, Vellosillo T, McFarlane HE, Dupree R, Kesten C, Schneider R, Driemeier C, Lathe R, Lampugnani E, Yu X, Ivakov A, Doblin MS, Mortimer JC, Brown SP, Persson S, Dupree P (2016). Golgi-localized STELLO proteins regulate the assembly and trafficking of cellulose synthase complexes in Arabidopsis. Nat. Commun., 7(1):11656. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11656

Rogowski A, Briggs JA, Mortimer JC, Tryfona T, Terrapon N, Lowe EC, Baslé A, Morland C, Day AM, Zheng H, Rogers TE, Thompson P, Hawkins AR, Yadav MP, Henrissat B, Martens EC, Dupree P, Gilbert HJ, Bolam DN (2015). Glycan complexity dictates microbial resource allocation in the large intestine. Nat. Commun., 6(1):7481. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8481

Contact details

Research Group Leader  Paul Dupree


Location  Hopkins Building


The Dupree Group is accepting enquiries from prospective interns, undergraduate students, postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers.