During the transition from primary wall formation to secondary thickening there is a marked shift in the synthesis of pectin, hemicellulose and cellulose. The activities of the enzymes [UDP-D-galactose 4-epimerase (EC UDP-l-arabinose 4-epimerase (EC, UDP-D-glucose dehydrogenase (EC and UDP-D--glucuronate decarboxylase (EC] were measured in cambial cells, differentiating xylem cells and differentiated xylem cells isolated from sycamore and poplar trees, and phloem cells from poplar. At the final stage of the differentiation of cambium to xylem there was a decrease in activity of the enzymes directly involved in producing the soluble precursors of pectin (DUP-D-galactose 4-epimerase and UDP-L-arabinose 4-epimerase and an increase in those producing the precursors of hemicellulose (UDP-D-glucose dehydrogenase and UDP-D-glucuronate decarboxylase). These results strongly suggest ahat the changes were correlated with the differences observed in the chemical composition of the wall during development. The changes found in the catalytic activity of the enzymes of nucleoside diphosphate sugar interconversion exert a coarse control over the synthesis of pectin and hemicelluloses. The tissues at all stages of development contained the necessary enzyme activities to produce all the precursors of pectin and hemicellulose, even at the final stage of differentiation when no pectin was formed.

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